Reviews from the Hamilton Fringe

by Lynn on July 25, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

On-line and on-demand from the Hamilton Fringe, Hamilton, Ont. until July 25, 2021.

The Laughter

Written and directed by Steven Elliott Jackson

Cast: Brandon Knox

Kate McArthur

New York City, 1943. NBC Studios. Lou Costello is getting ready to do his radio program with his comedy partner, Bud Abbott. Their special guest for that episode is a 33-year-old Lucille Ball. This gives writer/director Steven Elliott Jackson an opportunity to explore the serious life of a comedian/enne. At this point in her life Lucille Ball is fed up with the film studio and the system of making lousy movies. Her marriage is in trouble. She’s ready to quit. She comes to Lou for solace. She knows things about him that she can appreciate. Lou Costello tries to make light of how Bud Abbott earns more money than he does and Lou works his guts out for the do and for the laughs. He’s known sorrow. Lou Costello and Lucille Ball empathize with one another. It’s a hard life. But they go on.

In The Laughter, Steven Elliott Jackson gives an interesting glimpse into the world of these gifted comedians that we generally don’t see. Brand on Knox look uncannily like Lou Costello with the quick smile but sad eyes. Kate McArthur is a no-nonsense Lucille Ball who knows how to probe her friend to sell the truth about what is bothering him.  

It’s a Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest The Cops that killed Breonna Taylor

Created by: Roselyne Dougé-Charles, Carly Anna Billings, Liz Whitbread, Patrick Teed.

This is a verbatim play full of the mea culpas of privileged people trying to prove they are allies, and the platitudes from speeches declaring that “Black Lives Matter”, “Equal rights for all people” etc. It is almost a checklist of the anger and rage over the last several months when statues are painted pink in protest over past racist transgression of the person depicted; people are sorry for their insensitive behaviour but no formal apology is forthcoming. It’s an interesting idea to use the actual words spoken. But there is such an obvious cynicism in the delivery, that the whole exercise seems like overkill rather than irony.

Prairie Odyssey 

(Note: I saw this show at a previous Hamilton Fringe. They are remounting it digitally with interesting projections as backdrops.)

Written and directed by Valeri Kay

Musical director, Charly Chiarelli

Cast: Patti Cannon

Charly Chiarelli

Alison Chisholm

Valeri Kay.

This is a story of resilience in the face of grief and hardship in the 1930s. We get the details from the character of Becky on the occasion of the publication of her mother’s journal that chronicled that time.

The family lived happily and in prosperity in the small community of Chesapeake Bay until Bobby, Becky’s young brother died in an accident. The place held so many sad memories that the family moved to Saskatchewan because of the prospect of free land. Becky’s father would take up farming, something he knew nothing about. The play follows the difficulties of that first harsh winter and the drought-filled summer. Through it the family prevailed.

The cast play various characters and nicely differentiate between them by putting on a new hat or a different bit of clothing.  


Written and performed by Katherine Teed-Arthur

Directed by Max Cameron Fearon

From the play information: “Jehanne, a nineteen-year-old girl, sits in a prison cell talking to the disembodied Voices who guided her there. You may know this girl as Joan of Arc. It is 1431. She has been imprisoned by the English for over six months already and now her trial has finally begun; regardless of the outcome the imprisonment will soon be over. The Voices who she believes are angels sent from God counsel her.”

This is a thoughtful, interesting look into the mind of a determined, devout woman. Katherine Teed-Arthur has written a compelling play and character that asks so many questions about devotion, the importance of life and belief, dreams, memories, staring down bullies and the longing for home. Katherine Teed-Arthur gives a strong performance as Joan.

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