2009 Edmonton Fringe Reviews: Day 8...er, 10

Well, after two days of skipping the Fringe, I'm back with a vengence... well, mostly a vengence. Today we're going to cover House of Sand and Fog...uh, Full of Sound and Fury. The former is a movie, the latter is a quote from MacBeth. If you don't really know "The Scottish Play", you shouldn't have too much trouble following along. What we have here is a presentation of MacBeth by "Louis Rush", who goes by Roman de Fruscan, who's actually Marcus Fernando. Casting himself in the lead role, he runs into tension by the actress playing Lady MacBeth, who's certainly named something other than Olga Novak. Olga is like Lindsay Lohan meets a junior college drama prof meets Sir Humphrey Appleby, she breaks into long worded monologues and also manages to have numerous hissy fits while staging the production. It quickly becomes clear that neither actor is suited to perform MacBeth (if you check the playbill, its all done "in character"), with Roman's ego forcing him to overperform in every scene while Olga gets caught up in the smallest minutia. Both of them end up derailing the production over and over, until it turns out that this ad lib still is the production, which both enhances and detracts from the actor-audience trust dynamic that Olga constantly refers to. As the play goes on, we get some parallels forming between MacBeth the historical drama (at one point Roman asks an audience member if she's real, and if he's real, and if MacBeth is real: her answers are "I think so", "I don't know", and "no") and the play as it appears... occasionally during an argument the two will resume performing MacBeth even as the words they say parallel their own relationship. What we get here is an entertaining romp that could have benefitted by more parallels between the stories, and certainly could have been improved by not showing the lead actor's Meat & Veg on the projector (luckily I'd heard of this and was warned off), especially when Olga does have a nice body (though not nice breasts, despite it being a plot point). You'll get some but not a lot audience participation (15 year old Luba Goy from G-Men was in the crowd, and I half expected to see her come up), a few good jokes, some small insight into Shakespeare, and just duck before you end up seeing a man's business up on screen.

We've already reviewed one of the two Zombie plays at the 2009 Fringe, and now its time we address Captain Hook vs. The Zombies. This one posts a bit of revisionist history: we meet up with Captain Hook, his assistant Peter Pan, and their Sam Gamgee-like fat-boy Smid as they travel the English countryside (near Kent, for those who want to follow along on Google Earth) killing zombies and trying to track down the evil Dr. Crocodile who apparently has fulfilled the Dawn of the Dead/Resident Evil roles of creating zombies for some evil purpose. Indeed, we even see Dr. Crocodile's lab several times, where anachronistically cute lab assistants work with zombies with control collars talking about "test results for subject pool RX-8". As Captain Hook and his crew fight their way through the zombie hordes, Peter is sent off to receive payment from the mayor of Kent. He blackmails the mayor into giving him more money, and leaves just before a shadowy figure in a cloak and a zombie-walk walks in to provide the mayor with far more money he just gave up. I bring up this minor scene partly because at no point do they ever explain who the figure is or why the mayor is being paid off (you will have your suspicions at the time, but it turns out not to be true). On the way back, Peter runs into Wendy, who's also extremely skilled with a blade as she helps him take out a patch of attacking zombies. When they return to Hook its apparent that he and Wendy don't particularly like each other (Smid's in love with her), but they press on to find the lab of Dr. Crocodile. In the next confrontation, Peter is bitten and Wendy resolves that they have to find Dr. Crocodile's lab quickly in the hope that it will present them with a cure. Peter heads for more supplies, this time starting to turn zombie as he's blackmailing the mayor of whichever town they were at after Kent (sorry Google Earthers, I didn't keep track). Taking the money and concerned at what's happening to him, he rushes off to meet up with the others. As he gets there Wendy tells him she's found Dr. Crocodile's lab but when they arrive its long-abandoned. Just then a horde of zombies come at them, and Peter and Wendy are pulled off-stage. Hook and Smid finally track zombies crawling back to the real lab, where Peter is being cured of Zombie-ism and Wendy reveals herself as Dr. Crocodile, obsessed over curing all illnesses and helping people live forever. There's a good "boy who never grew up" parallel in there, and its really a shame that the writers missed it...Peter did grow up, got horny for Wendy, and that was that. Captain Hook, revealing his full name is "James Tiberius Hook" goes off on a Shatner-esque speech about how Wendy "must... be stopped!" and then he and Wendy and Peter and Smid end up fighting until Hook and Smid run off, and Peter gives an injured Wendy the cure for everything (Wendy warns him that it isn't what he thinks, which means its probably zombieism) as the lights dim. Well then, what we get here is some great swordsplay, some entertaining one-liners, and oddly for a fringe play: no tinkerbells. Its certainly the weak horse of the two fringe zombie plays, but its still an exciting enough swashbuckling adventure that in general you don't get worked up over it. Its popcorn fun, and while you wish there was some more depth, its zombies for Pete's sake. Still, I think I'm going to watch Resident Evil five more times after the Fringe is over.