Crisp timing, polished production two reasons to see The Tale of a Town

Lennie MacPherson
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Victoria Playhouse

Beware: interlopers have ingratiated themselves into our pods, in an attempt to learn about our ways, and reflect our idiosyncrasies back at us.

They come bearing smiles and kind words and a healthy heaping of self-awareness.

You may have seen their nifty camper trailer pulled around your community. No, it’s not another food truck. But, they seem nice enough to fix you a cup of tea, if you’re in the need, that is. You can find them bunked up at the Victoria Playhouse for the next two weeks.

The show, The Tale of a Town, is an ambitious community collaboration project concocted by the FIXT POINT theatre company. Its creative, high energy approach is unique in the field of heritage preservation, I imagine.

The P.E.I. stop is part of a larger scale project that will see them visit and collect auditory specimens from all provinces on the road to 2017.

That’s 150 years after Canadian Confederation occurred, don’t ya know.

These itinerants are well-schooled performers.  They have crisp timing, and a keen grasp of their audience.

Through zany, mixed-media pageant, they devour many of the same tropes that Islanders never tire of hearing. Anthropologically speaking, it is, however, interesting to see how these same iconic quirks constantly resurface.

Director Lisa Marie DiLiberto does a commendable job glueing together all the pieces in what was surely a truncated and hectic period of preparation, to give us a seamless production.

Deanna Jones has an affable stage presence, always sporting a wry smile. Adam Paolozza charms, as well. And Robert Feetham is a natural crack up. Peeved or hang-dogged stare, he has great physical awareness and comic sense.

The troupe has been able to second a couple of Island dwellers to help with their research. Justin Simard ably lays down a soft bedding score, and showcases his rich, warm voice. Kristena McCormack displays her musical chops as well. And the two fare well keeping up with the other wired actors.

How many ways can a story be told? Enhanced by a live camera feed, the audience is treated to an ever-changing food diorama, and a feature black and white movie dusted off from the archives, with stellar high budget special effects. A Shakespearean segued dance and duel was (also) a treat to witness from beginning to buttery finish.

Though the audio of the interviews was a bit muddy at times — likely a preview show hurdle — the content was recounted and mimed on stage to great effect. One of many fine moments was performed in mischievous silhouette.

With silly props, title cards, and subtle sound effects to boot, it’s a production that brims with personality.

Hate to reveal all of their gags, but I’m still laughing at the understated and artfully wordless fishing charter, fuelled by the easy listening sounds of Christopher Cross.

It’s cute and kinetic and fun and other words that sound like I’m describing a puppy. It’s also an admirably polished production from a talented crew of theatre lovers. Nobody ever needs an arm twist to spend the day in Crapaud-by-the-Sea’s pretty sister community, but here’s one more reason to put it on your own summer travels. And quickly!

 

Lennie MacPherson, a Charlottetown-based writer, actor and musician, writes theatre reviews for The Guardian during the summer months. He welcomes feedback at mockmywoods@gmail.com.

Organizations: FIXT POINT theatre, Canadian Confederation

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