You’re never too old for a good bedtime story, are you?
creature/creature, a recently founded Montreal-based theatre collective premieres a piece that I feel many late-night Fringers will hold near and dear to their hearts: Oscar girl gone wilde. This intriguing storytelling event is written and performed by Johanna Nutter (also founder of creature/creature), and directed by Joseph Shragge.
Going into the show, I had no idea what it was about, or even what style it would be, as all press thus far has been rather elusive. All I know is that it will be “a re-telling of three Oscar Wilde fairy tales”. I sit in one of many chairs that hug the wall at The Freestanding Room where, in this configuration, the stage is clearly set in the center as seating encompasses all around.
The venue attendant announces the show will be starting shortly. She leaves, and turns off the lights.
Silence. Darkness. I think about my life. A minute passes. I think about what I need to do with my day and – I hear keys jangling from outside the room. Nutter enters as if coming home to a studio apartment on the Main at 11pm. At first it seems she doesn’t acknowledge us and goes on with her evening. She eventually speaks about the Oscar Wilde stories that her mother would read to her as a child, and then recites a couple.
From this point on a precedent is set for the entire show. A beautiful mix of theatricality and storytelling ensures. Nutter continues with both dramatic charisma and endearing interactions with the audience. At times it seems that as an audience, we are observers, but this is mixed with direct interaction and even “play” (for instance when someone sneezed, Nutter replied “bless you”).
Nutter’s re-telling of The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, and The Nightingale and the Rose is ripe with energy yet somehow gives off a calming ambience as well. The actress’ performance delivers the same duality that childhood bedtime stories have: everything is important and we are invested in the detail, yet we remain unperturbed, as tranquility and levity translates from her voice and actions.
It is this heavy lightness in Oscar girl gone wilde that makes it emulate a good bedtime story.
The content and meanings are so wonderfully ineffable that after some thought, the show becomes uncomfortably personal. Some of what happens really makes one think about one’s own life. My own understanding of the reasons and meaning of the show is completely different than a friend’s.
The beauty of the piece is that I’m finding it nearly impossible to grasp how to summarize it in a review. I do not want to do it injustice and delve into what happens, however without that it seems rather hard to review.
Simply: did I like it? Yes. In fact, the more that I think about it, the more I love it and want to see it again.
You should see it because the Wilde stories are great to hear. You should see it because it seems a very personal performance to Nutter, and you can’t see this anywhere else. You should see it because I find it really encapsulates the Fringe: minimalist intriguing theatre that is so rarely produced, yet so urgently fantastic to experience.
Finally, you should see it because you’re never too old for a bedtime story.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Rahul Gandhi
“Oscar girl gone wilde”
When: June 3-17, 2017
Where: Espace Freestanding Room, 4324 Saint-Laurent, H2W 1Z3
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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