by Lynn on August 9, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

I’m Doing This For You.

At the Summerhall, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Written and performed by Haley McGee
Directed by Mitchell Cushman

A blonde-wigged woman, with false eyelashes and lots of makeup wearing a slinky orange dress, high heels and shiny stockings, gives us balloons to blow up as we enter the theatre space. She is charming, funny, flirty, and welcoming. When we get into the space there is a tray of cupcakes over there on a table with another tray of shot-glasses of vodka.

She has arranged this audience for her ‘boyfriend’ who wants to be a standup comedian. It’s his birthday—hence the cupcakes etc. And this is her present to him. She guides us in how to greet him and how to sing happy birthday. She’s nervous. He’s expected any minute she tells us. Matters have been rocky with the boyfriend and she’s hoping to get him to stay in the relationship.

Our heroine is needy, deluded about this relationship, lonely—she shares too much information about herself and her relationship with her boyfriend– desperate and in her own way, loving.

The show premiered in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille about a year ago. I think the show has grown in that time and McGee is confident, smart, never misses a chance for making a moment funny and knows how to play off her audience. She writes about characters who are on the edges of society; the lonely, the odd-ball. And she makes us feel for and sympathize with them. She is aided and guided by Mitchell Cushman, one of the most attentive, creative young directors in Toronto at the moment

Apparently that was real vodka in those glasses but I thought it might not be helpful on jet lag—I saw it the day I landed after an overnight flight. But the cupcakes were a treat.

Jack Klaff, Beyond Price.

At the Summerhall, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Created and performed by Jack Klaff.

Mr. Klaff is a volcano of energy, flitting from thought to thought, daring his audience to keep up. His voice is deep and rich. He can bellow and would be heard outside the building and probably even on the street.

The flyer for his show says that he will touch on highlights from shows that didn’t make it into this year’s Fringe, but there were plans to include them next year. On the front of the flyer is a picture of two panda bears carrying shopping bags. The blurb says that Klaff will play among others: lovemaking pandas; dubbed Carry On characters; an earnest Boris Johnson (rumour had it that Donald Trump would be added to the mix….I guess in a kind of challenging duel of bad hair); a verse-speaking Mandela and tap-dancing robots.

None of this happened. Instead he gave a kind of master class of acting and ideas. He wore an ostentatious mask at one point and said he was going to move us with just body language and we were to tell him when we were moved. He put a hand out in a gesture; shifted the gesture a bit; and changed it more getting more dramatic in the body language. When no one said he/she was moved, Klaff took off the mask and declared that bit didn’t work and moved to the next bit.

He talked about acting; about making films; that he’s been accused of ‘over-acting’ and that he agreed with that sometimes. He talked of his daughter. He talked of his brother and mother. He talked of being asked to be involved with working, planning etc. at the Summerhall during Fringe time hence the idea for the show.

He declared that he didn’t have much money but that some things were “beyond price.” His aged mother is in a nursing home in South Africa. Calling her regularly is important and the cost does matter—beyond price. He challenges the audience to declare when the show will end and if the person is correct, he will give them “two quid.” (£2). One person said “12:35 pm”. I blurted out: 12:30 pm. I won. He finished bang on 12:30 pm. He told me to wait for my winnings. He put his hand out to me with the “Two Quid.” I told him to keep it and call his mother. He gave me a hug.


At the Summerhall, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Created and performed by Kamila Klamut in cooperation with Marianna Sadovska
Musical accompaniment by Ewa Pasikowska.

The subject interested me. Camille Claudel was the lover and artistic partner of Auguste Rodin. Her brother Paul had her committed to a mental institution where she spent many years until she died at 79.

Kamila Klamut’s long and extensive program note details a lot of Camille’s life. She conjectures a lot about Camille’s brother’s motives. Klamut also writes about French attitudes towards women at the time. The fact that the program note is sprawling, stilted, badly written and not really cohesive should have given me a hint about what kind of production Kamila Klamut and her collaborators would produce. In a word, ‘dreadful.’

We enter the theatre and see two women sitting in chairs beside each other one faces the other. The woman facing us, looking mournful, not speaking much to the other woman is Kamila Klamut who plays Camille. The other woman who talks quietly to her is more animated. She is Ewa Pasikowska. She is the musician for this show playing both piano and violin and singing. She also plays sort of involved character. Precious little in the program note has anything to do with this pretentious, esoteric script. There is little information just the ramblings of a fragile minded woman. That’s not drama. That’s just drivel. Four people are listed as “directorial assistance.” They should all be embarrassed.

Camille has conversations with a bust she sculpted. I assume it’s of Rodin. Nope it was that of her brother. We find that out later. Kamila Klamut’s delivery is labored, halting and not believable. The music played by Ewa Pasikowska is classical in nature. But the last scene is done to blaring heavy metal. Mystifying. Camille sits in a chair. The lighting closes in on her face. She puts her head back and the light spills down her front and she falls backwards in her chair and blackout. For a rather long time. Then the lights go up on an empty stage with the empty chair tipped backward on the stage. Still silence. Then one brave soul claps once and the rest of us applaud weakly. The two ladies come out for their bow arms around their waists, clinging, looking rather severe. Then they exit.

Pretentious drivel. A vanity project of the worst kind.

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