Winnipeg Fringe Festival: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea; Made in Germany; Gametes and Gonads
This is a case where the script and actors are entirely mismatched. The production isn’t bad, but nor is it memorable in any way. The story focuses on a chance encounter between two alienated souls who manage to find a type of peace through the other. The verbal cues explicitly say that these are screwed up individuals, but the performances never achieve that level of intensity; Danny appears frustrated as opposed to violent, and Roberta seems far too wholesome to be as unhinged as her lines suggest.
The actors have undeniable stage presence, but it felt as though they were over their heads. Mounting a production that deals with Big Issues is a brave choice, but it isn’t effective unless the subject matter is handled in a believable way. In this show the actors seemed more taken aback by the characters’ life histories than the audience. If it was being presented outside of the fringe festival, this would be a decent but unexceptional show; as part of a larger festival, I would suggest looking for a drama with a little more meat to it.
The premise is relatively straightforward and so is the show: two guys grow up together, strive to make it big as rock stars, become successful in Germany, and then end up coming home as nobodies who have to work (in adult entertainment) to pay the bills. Then add in a lot of jokes about the Canadian music industry in the 90′s and some easy laughs about porn. There are references that only work if you grew up with Much Music, and seem like they would be funnier if you are from Toronto. The performers clearly have fun with this show and that energy carries over to the audience.
The problem is that the production doesn’t transcend the concept. There were also some major problems with pacing. It never feels like there is much at stake because there isn’t that much tension built in to the show. The story drops a lot of events in to the plot without giving it any time to exploring the consequences of the actions on the characters.As an audience member it’s difficult to get invested in the ups and downs of their bromance because it’s so clear that the duo will remain best friends no matter what.
Gametes and Gonads (Active Salad Productions)
Think a science-fiction action movie done as a high energy one man show. Follow the adventures of sperm cells and eggs through a life-and-death struggle to survive … sex. This performance is exactly as zany as it sounds in the program description. Luckily it also happens to be enjoyable.
Jeff Leard is an acrobatic performer who really knows how to work a crowd. The characters are hard to follow, there isn’t much plot per se and the dialogue is really campy; then again, that’s what makes it fun. It’s worth seeing if only for the frenetic sense of movement.