This past week I took in 2 very different shows, both Canadian works.
First up was Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes produced by the relatively new company, Cardiac Theatre in the PCL Theatre at Fringe Theatre Adventures. The short (59 minutes) show tells the story of Peter Fechter, a young East Berlin brick-layer who attempts to cross the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s. As he attempts to escape he is shot and we experience a fictionalized account of what goes through his mind in those 59 minutes before he dies. The source material is true and one thing the show did for me was get me thinking and reading. Off to climb down that wikipedia wormhole. That's one of the things I love about theatre is that often it provides a glimpse of something I didn't really know much about and it sparks that interest in finding out more. The production is well done. I loved the set and lighting and the choice of the alley staging - underscoring the two sides of the wall - and the twisted barbed wire that is entangled with the detritus of Peter's (Bradley Dore) young life. It was tight and engaging and thought-provoking.
The other show I saw was Fortune Falls presented by Catalyst Theatre at the Citadel. Catalyst Theatre started out much in the same way as Cardiac Theatre is now - a group of young U of A drama grads presenting challenging work. Fortune Falls combines many things that Catalyst has become known for, an edgy world with a unique vision. Each moment is excellently executed by it's 5 person ensemble. The music is original and tight with stand-out vocals from Jamie Tognazzini and Daniel Fong. The many characters portrayed by the ensemble are clearly defined and individual. My favorites included Braydon Dowler-Coltman's brash and larger than life Tour Guide, Shannon Blanchett's hilarious clickety-clark executive secretary (there are too many characters for me to remember names) and Graham Mothersill's East-coast factory repairman. I really loved the lighting design by Kerem Çetinel, which was brilliant and precise - no small feat in a thrust theatre - and Megan Koshka's costumes were inspired. Truly an original world created onstage.
Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes runs to January 22nd at the PCL Theatre.
Fortune Falls runs to Feberuary 5th in the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel.
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