“We Accept Her: A Caravan Calamity” is a morality play based on Todd Browning’s 1932 cult classic Freaks. Directed by Mylene Chicoine, it attempts to take the film’s plot, adapt it into a modern context, and restyle it for the stage. The play features Sophia Metcalf as The Dazzling Dancer Josephine, Bamidele Kojo as Belinda “The Bearded Lady”, Greg Hamilton as Albert the Silent One, Kathy Slamen as Mama “Third Eye” Mabelle, and Zach Radford as Simon the Strongman. The show also includes Erica Bridgman as musical accompanist on the keyboard.
The show is largely structured around the love triangle that occurs between Josephine, Belinda and Simon at Mama Mabelle’s Marvelous Marauding Museum of Mayhem and Mutated Misfits. Josephine struggles with what seems to be a purely physical attraction for Simon, and she sees being with him as socially acceptable. Her relationship with Belinda is based upon a sense of play and seems to be closer to romantic love, but Josephine cannot accept it because she believes Belinda to be a freak. The principal theme of the show is accepting oneself and others despite differences and what society may think of them.
The set consisted of a bench and a small table that resembled the inside of a caravan and there were also many props used to set the scene, all of which aided to paint the picture of a circus in the early twentieth century. The charming costumes were designed Myriam Mily Tchang-Leith; my hat goes off to her.
There were several highlights within the production, beginning with the endearing romantic montage in which Josephine interacts with both Simon and Belinda and we see the differences between the two relationships. Mama Mabelle’s narrations were also an effective tool to set the mood and introduce the characters and the story. Metcalf’s dance numbers are impressive and convincing, providing a solid backbone for the show.
However, I did find that the show could benefit from being tightened up a bit to improve its flow, but this could be attributed to opening night jitters, and any pacing issues should iron themselves out throughout the run. Furthermore, I was initially confused about Josephine’s true intentions and emotions as they seemed to be overshadowed by the over-the-top style of acting that was used as a call back to the 1930’s. When I realized that this was a directorial choice, however, I was better able to appreciate and understand that her motives would later be revealed. The acting was good across the board and the play delivered in the end.
We Accept Her: A Caravan Calamity is a fun, relishable show with a worthy message, and if you have seen and enjoyed Freaks you are bound to appreciate it. I would even extend this recommendation to an audience who would enjoy a straight-forward narrative with a moral to it. It runs at the MainLine until June 18th.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Alex Gauthier
Crazy Cat Lady Productions
presents “We Accept Her: A Caravan Calamity”
When: June 8 – 17, 2017
Where: Théâtre MainLine Theatre, 3997 Saint-Laurent
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival