One of several American acts on this year’s Fringe circuit, Really Spicy Opera travels north of the border to bring us their one-woman play Ain’t That Rich, a comedic narrative that follows Kate (Kate Robards) on her journey up the socio-economic ladder, from humble beginnings to high roller. The actress shines as she shows off her versatility on stage, transforming before the audience’s eyes. Though it is their first time participating in the Montreal Fringe, the production goes off without a hitch, and it’s clear that there are some seasoned professionals at the helm. Robards shines onstage and her enigmatic presence is ultimately what makes the production such a success.
The play opens with Kate, a precocious young girl growing up broke in the state of Texas. In her thick southern accent, she divulges all her secrets to the audience, admitting to having lied about her family’s circumstances, and feeling a great deal of shame surrounding their financial situation. Like so many who grow up without money, Kate becomes obsessed in her pursuit of it, and the desire to make it out of small town Texas. After marrying well, she is catapulted into a new world, a higher tax bracket and social class, but it’s not all that she expected it to be.
Throughout the play, Robards’ character undergoes vast transformations that would be a challenge for any actress to depict. The art is in the subtlety of her actions, her posture, the slow dissolve of her southern accent as the drama unfolds. She is clearly very comfortable on stage, making it easy for the audience to engage with her and get swept up in the storyline. Robards plays several other characters in addition to Kate throughout the production, ranging from the most backwoods hillbilly to the upper echelons of high society, proving that her talent is multifaceted.
Directed by Christopher Murray, the show is tight and well-executed, true to the nature of Fringe in the sparseness of its set and use of props. It’s the kind of production that demonstrate the importance of good writing and solid acting skills. Robards is a true gem who has audience members chuckling one moment and tearing up the next. Her ability to maintain that connection with the crowd is really something special. She is truly impressive in her ability to carry the entire show on her own, and spectators are left feeling fully satisfied.
The only issue worth mentioning was the lack of audience members present, though, to be fair, it was 10:30 on a Monday night. Nevertheless, Robards gave a flawless performance to the few of us in attendance. I didn’t know what to expect, and entering an empty theatre is generally not a good sign, but this play was certainly a pleasant surprise. Here’s hoping that the good word will spread quickly and that this show will draw the full house it deserves.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Anya Leibovitch
Really Spicy Opera presents “Ain’t That Rich”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Petit Campus, 57 Prince-Arthur East
Duration: 70 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival