Best laid plans… I didn’t make it to “Lost In Twine” on Monday evening. I was too lackadaisical, thinking there would be tickets available on the spot. Boy, was I wrong. I am now scrambling to make sure I see this selling out show! Good for them! Have you seen it?
In the true Fringe spirit, I promptly perused my schedule and bolted to the nearest show, which happened to be “The Water is Wide” by singer/song-writer/performer Randy Rutherford. I had no idea what to expect. A small but eager audience was present at the WaterFront Theatre. When Randy came on stage, and began talking, I was a little worried. My last image in my mind’s eye on this stage was “My Bike Trip”, a frenetic, hilarious LSD themed trip. This alternate energy seemed more like a greener, organic high. I slowed down my breathing (in all fairness, I was a bit wired from running) and settled in.
It was a love story. A gentle, touching tale that had us chuckling, and relating. Rutherford sang, played his guitar, became several characters, and tenderly (mostly) gave us his true story. Rutherford has progressive hearing loss, revealed in the storyline, but it becomes the last characteristic I think about as he recounts playfully without much sign of his auditory obstacle.
My next planned piece, “Hard Times” still had tickets. Whew! This time, I knew of the subject matter, the closing of a vaudeville theatre. A friend of mine is doing some extensive research into Vancouver’s vaudeville past so I was curious to see this show. Actor/singer Bremner Duthie, created “Hard Times” with Lisa Pasold, is also performing another original musical piece at the Fringe, “Ne Me Quitte Pas: Piaf and Brel, The Impossible Concert”, which I have yet to see.
In “Hard Times” Duthie plays a passionate host to the last night in his cherished theatre. It’s a sad tale as he digs in his heels and refuses to leave until he has made a night to remember. “I’ll die if I go out there.” He’s terrified of “being alive but not really living”. His place is in the theatre. Through songs of the 30’s, stories of his past stage partner, prop puppetry, brief moments of hope with his stage manager, and a dance with death, Duthie defends his place in this dramatic world. It’s a sweaty high energy piece.
A welcomed breath came during an intimate moment with a gramophone and his old stage partner’s music. He quotes her song, “As long as you live, you’ll be dead if you die.” Duthie’s voice is strong and his commitment, intense.
A few years ago, The Pantages Theatre on Hastings Street had an injection of hope to be resurrected. Sadly, as hard as the community fought to reverse the decision, the theatre was torn down. As I watched this show, flashes of The Pantages’ interior kept pushing its way forward in my mind. I wondered where all those performing ghosts went.
Once again, being at the Fringe, watching live theatre and original productions gets you thinking, dreaming. And, even if there are elements of a show I might not like, I always find something with which to walk away.
Only a few more days left, 3 actually, at The Vancouver International Fringe Festival. Off you go!
Vive le theatre!