Yesterday, I arrived at the Downtown Activity Centre to a sold out performance of Significant Me by Christel Bartelse. The show is essentially a continuation of her last play, ONEymoon. Her character takes the ultimate commitment and marries herself. We enter into her cardboard home full that looks like it came straight of a Sears catalogue for housewives of the 1950s. She is celebrating her 3rd anniversary with herself and is preparing a large feast for her family and friends as she reflects on the last three years.
Bartelse is a fantastic performer. She has a long list of accomplishments in the theatre world but that aside, she just owns the stage. As a one-woman show, or any solo act, I think it’s very important and a challenge to connect with the audience with only a small amount of resources. I enjoyed the story, of course not many people do not get married to themselves, however the story still had a lot to say about relationships in general. The whole show was enjoyable and I think everyone would get a kick out of her character.
I ended the evening at VCM Wood Hall for a performance of Fear Factor: Canine Edition. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding this play. A bunch of performers recommended the show, there were fantastic reviews, and the shows had so far sold out. I also am a huge dog person, so needless to say, I was quite excited to see this show. I also had no idea what the show exactly was going to be. I was unsure whether to expect a comedy, or a storytelling piece. I’ll say now that by the end of the show, I was in tears and it was a fantastic experience.
Fear Factor is the story of John Grady and his dog Abby. Grady is a huge fan of Fear Factor the reality show and ties in his experience with his therapy dog Abby and how, like the experience couple on Fear Factor: Couples, they made it through all of the challenges that life threw at them. Despite claiming to never have been in love, Grady lets us see, for those who haven’t experience this, the love between an owner and their dog. For those who have had this experience, the play serves as a reminder of how amazing it can be.
He tells us the story of the end of Abby’s life while moving through memories of their time together. The most amazing about this show was it was only John Grady. He had no props, no extra lighting (save one spotlight), and no other characters. It was just himself and his stories of a man and his dog. The arrangement of the stories and their connection to the idea of Fear Factor fit together very well. If you’re not a dog person or if you are, if you’ve never owned a dog or if you have, if you’re a general lover of animals, or if you’re someone who has experience an intimate relationship, this show is for you.
Significant Me has three shows left and Fear Factor: Canine Edition only has one so make sure to get your tickets! For more information, check out www.victoriafringe.com.