The moment that the opening night performance of The Merkin Sisters was over, the two performers laughed and told the audience to simply spread the word about the show as they didn’t quite know how to describe it. This elicited laughs from the attendees as each one of them knew it to be true – and no one more so than this reviewer.
With that preface, allow me do just that and try to explain the strange hilarity that is this production: two siblings (played by Stephanie Morin-Robert and Ingrid Hansen) compete with one another, going from one sketch to another as they perform crazy feats of puppetry and costumed hilarity using primarily large hair pieces that cover their entire bodies.
The Merkin Sisters take sibling rivalry to a whole new level with this piece; Morin-Robert and Hansen co-created and co-star in a boundary-pushing performance that will leave you in stitches. With the feel of a sketch comedy show mixed with clown and mask work, the content is almost indescribably delirious; it’s so much fun and punchy, but you won’t quite know what hit you. Both performers, while often moving in some form of unison, offer their own unique charm to the role of their respective Merkin sister. The duo also routinely turn to the audience and ask that they participate in ways that wildly enhance the play’s experience.
Despite all the ridiculousness at the surface, there appears to be an underlying theme of womanhood and embracing everything that it entails. Throughout the play this theme is explored in a variety of ways that goes to include childbirth, menstruation, partial nudity, and even a two-person vagina puppet (yes, you read that correctly). While the show would mostly be categorized as a comedic performance piece, these subtle – and at times not so subtle –demonstrations of these women embracing their bodies lends it a greater purpose and transmits a deeply powerful message.
In my best attempt to describe The Merkin Sisters, all I can say is: go experience it for yourselves. What cannot adequately be put into words is not only the content but the feeling you get upon leaving and knowing that you will probably never see anything like it again. Catch this show as well as SNAFU’s other production – Interstellar Elder – at the La Chapelle theatre before the company heads off to the Toronto Fringe to continue their tour.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor David Hudon
Stephanie Morin-Robert and Ingrid Hansen present
“The Merkin Sisters”
When: June 12 – 18, 2017
Where: La Chapelle, 3700 Saint-Dominique
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival