Nisha Coleman and Jeff Gandell offer up their experiences with experimentation. From acid trips to ecstasy-fuelled raves, to hazy nights on Mount Royal with friends and copious amounts of marijuana, the renowned duo deliver their highest highs and lowest lows, much to the satisfaction of the audience. Through Things Drugs Taught Me, Coleman and Gandell relay true human experience, offering spectators to come along as they rehash their most embarrassing, catastrophic, yet eye-opening adventures. The concept behind the production is that drugs can be a uniting experience among people, and also provide some hilarious anecdotes which are relatable on so many levels.
Both Coleman and Gandell are excellent storytellers, so it doesn’t take much to convince the audience to immerse themselves in the experience that is unfolding before them. To the credit of the creators, the show is based solely in dialogue, with little to no set, props or costumes. The two manage to deliver entertaining stories, eliciting a great deal of laughter while incorporating certain universal truths. At one point, Gandell states, “The only thing stronger than my fear of death is my fear of being left out.” This statement is universally relatable, especially in youth, when the desire to fit in and be accepted by one’s peers is stronger, perhaps, than the instinct of self-preservation. Gandell continues on to tell of his pot-fuelled attempt to climb the cross on Mount Royal, an experience that many Montrealers are sure to find relatable.
While Coleman proclaims that she doesn’t do drugs, aside from the odd unintentional trial, Gandell is more of a seasoned partier who has used drugs as a way to immerse himself in counter-culture as well as gain writerly experience. In all accounts, the drugs acted as a vehicle by which the performers navigated social situations, or rites of passage, often with hilarious results, and generally offering an ‘all’s well that ends well’ type of conclusion. The show isn’t exactly promoting the use of drugs, but it certainly highlights the positive aspects of letting go and allowing yourself to be in the moment. Both performers are entertainers in their own right, using movement, body language and voice to convey all the elements of the stories and bring them to life; it’s a true re-enactment.
The production avoids feeling preachy as there is no moral to these stories. Coleman and Gandell are happy to poke fun at themselves and their own personal experiences as a means of entertaining the people and bringing them together in a nod to the foolish choices we have all made along the way. Their anecdotes are told in vivid detail, but ultimately It is the sincerity of the seasoned storytellers that will win over audiences. They manage to revitalize the often overdone genre, avoiding the tropes associated with most narcotics-related accounts.
Things Drugs Taught Me is a truly encapsulating experience, and one that is sure to leave theatregoers giggling or nodding in silent understanding throughout the course of the festival.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Contributor Anya Leibovitch
Yarn Productions presents “Things Drugs Taught Me”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Mission Santa Cruz, 60 Rachel Ouest, H2W 1W9
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival