Seeing Uma Gahd sitting at the bar in the back of Pompette, you can’t help but feel ten times less glamorous by comparison. House of Laureen, who gave us the successful Backdoor Queens at last year’s Fringe (and this year’s Wildside Festival), brings us their latest production where drag queen Uma Gahd explores female empowerment and failed marriages while waiting for her old friend Margaret to join her for drinks. Are you There Margaret? Its me, Gahd is a wildly entertaining way to spend 45 minutes.
This multidisciplinary one-woman cabaret/comedic drag act is directed by Mathieu Flageole, who successfully ensured that audiences laughed at the clever ploys (especially the wedding dress reveal!) and that the fourth wall was effectively broken. We felt comfortably uncomfortable, and it made the whole show feel quite intimate.
The costumes were fabulous and fun and the use of song and dance was a blast. The narrative, in fact, seemed to have been constructed around the music, and this contributed to what felt like a false memoir whose whole purpose was to give Uma the opportunity to perform the songs. However, the themes that arose within this narrative were worthwhile and approached with justice.
The message I walked away with was that women should not be competing but lifting each other up. And this is what women want! We want to support each other, but the damn patriarchy has made it difficult and has taught us to believe that we have to tear other women down in order to succeed.
I also appreciated (and you may too) topics like combating unsolicited dick pics, leaving people behind who are unsupportive, and the importance of chasing your dreams.
Gahd is compelling storyteller with a flair for the dramatic and an ability to charm a crowd. Her dancing is precise, exciting, and beautiful, and she effectively used the space in performance. She also had the opportunity to show off her puppetry skills, which were extremely impressive – particularly during a three-part simultaneous counterpoint. Gahd also demonstrated improvisational artistry in dealing with a temporary lapse of memory (she was somehow still able to give us four hearty laughs while her producer figured out where she was in the script.)
Although Gahd as a character is wonderfully funny, a joke or two might have failed to land. During these moments, I wondered if the script could have used a bit more editing. Another thing to be aware of: if you are someone who attends drag shows on the regular, this show will feel pretty tame – not too mild, but relatively so due to the fact that this is a play.
That being said… have you been interested in or are curious about drag shows? Do you want to bring your friends or parents to a production that will bring them out of their comfort zone for a little while? Love drag and want to see how it works as a one-woman play? This is the show for you!!!
Are You There Margaret? Its Me, Gahd is much different from the beloved Judy Blume novel, but I would argue they have a similar heart – one that champions friendships between women.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Madison Jolliffe
House of Laureen presents
“Are You There Margaret? Its Me, Gahd!”
When: June 2-17, 2017
Where: Pompette, 4128 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Duration: 45 minutes
Box Office: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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