Saturday, September 6, 2008

Vancouver Fringe Festival Review One - PUTZ

Scrupolosity...I don't know what it means. But along with words like Herpesiphighonnoritis and Blahamablam, I can certainly guess the meaning and be pretty certain that I'm right.

After all, just look at this guy:

His name is Andrew Bailey. He is a one-man show. He is a one-man show called Putz. And interestingly enough, it's sort of a hetero-lesbian schizophrenic one-man show. Intrigued? I certainly was. I've retyped the blurb in the Fringe Guide, which can be found at Blenz locations throughout the city or online at the link above:

"Scrupulosity's Andrew Bailey has a best friend who comes out to him as a lesbian. He also has a psychiatrist who orders him to start dating. Then things get kinda weird."

Now I have a couple things to say before I review. The Fringe Festival is better organized than the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, which ran last month in theatre throughout the city. I would like to thank PR maven Jessica Nesselroad, along with the on-site staff tonight for their help. They are professionals, so if you go to a show and decide to flirt, keep it classy ladies and gentlement. They have a job to do!

Secondly: queer content this year is there, but you have to look for it. So check back for updates next week. I have a couple more picks that I'll tell you about then.

I came for the queer content and stayed for the flip chart. One-man shows are a risky business. Being naturally inclined to monogamy, I speak from experience. The highs are diszzying, the lows are depth-defying and more often than not, hit rock bottom before you even know where you're heading there. One-man shows depend on the actor, especially one-man shows with props (you may naturally think of Carrot Top, but don't because there is nothing natural about him *shudder*)
*insert blood curdling scream here*

Bailey's character is a nerd. I'm not going to mince words. He is the nerdiest of nerds: high socks, high libido, with a penchant for ordinary button-ups and sensible shoes. Stalkerish, he also composes acrostic poetry for his various paramours. If you are thinking it's a play featuring the following Simpson's anti-hero:

You are correct. Milhouse Van Houton lives!!

There are certain people who bring out the bully in me. Bailey's character is one of them. I frequently had to supress the urge to run up and pants the guy and/or give an atomic wedgie, followed by a quickie wet willie and snake burn for a farewell. That's a sign of good acting and good writing. Oooo the passion!

Watching the quickly-moving 60 mins of this play was like hanging out with the guy at London Drugs who fixes laptops after he's taken a couple tabs of speed.

Structurally, it felt like two plays pieced together - the lesbian friend storyline vs the shame of a sexually repressed 30-something. Though from the pairing of both, the audience got to hear lines like: "we were a society of two," which I thought did an admirable job of expressing two distinct sexual solititudes experience by two very different individuals.

So final word on the queer: mutton dressed as lesbian. Queer content in this one feels like window dressing, but in the end who cares. Bailey's delivery will make you laugh, so get out and see Putz, hell, take your girlfriend(s) and/or boyfriend(s). Hell, just take your firends. And bring your mom too. It's running at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island, with shows on Sept 7, Sept 9, Sept 11 and Sept 14.

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