Brad’s pit

Rating: NNNNNOutrageous indeed. After nearly a dozen workshops, Brad Fraser and Joey Miller's musical inspired by the 70s Craig Russell.


Rating: NNNNN

Outrageous indeed. After nearly a dozen workshops, Brad Fraser and Joey Miller’s musical inspired by the 70s Craig Russell film still feels incomplete, filled with lots of ideas, some fine performances but plenty of bad choices.

The mid-budget musical tells the story of gay hairdresser Robin (Thom Allison) and his unlikely friendship with a schizophrenic woman named Liza (Lorretta Bailey). The two help each other, Liza encouraging Robin to follow his secret dream of becoming a female impersonator, Robin chasing away Liza’s inner demons by simply being around.

Despite the offensive suggestion that mental illness can be cured by a simple hug, there’s genuine heart displayed in the friendship between the two outsiders, and Allison and Bailey, the best things in the show, play the dysfunctional duo with palpable warmth and chemistry.

Despite the offensive suggestion that mental illness can be cured by a simple hug, there’s genuine heart displayed in the friendship between the two outsiders, and Allison and Bailey, the best things in the show, play the dysfunctional duo with palpable warmth and chemistry.

But Fraser crowds the book with so many plot points, half-developed characters and aborted ideas that we’re left with a loud, confusing mess of a show. Two examples: a motif of gold-clad women backup singers goes nowhere, and as Liza’s friend Anne, Tamara Bernier has wonderful pipes but nothing to work on. (Who is she? Where did they meet?)

Fraser’s inexperience with the musical form also shows in his handling of lyrics.

It’s difficult to make them out, often because of a poorly calibrated sound system but also because of the awkward positioning of words. Fraser sacrifices clarity for cleverness, but what good is cleverness when you can’t understand what’s being sung?

David Boechler’s costumes suggest the 70s with cheek and style, but I’m flummoxed by his set, a steel and plastic monstrosity that’s more suited to an Alien movie. There are two or three memorable musical numbers, but the score lacks consistency.

Like Liza, it’s schizophrenic. But it needs more than a hug to make it better. GS

OUTRAGEOUS, by Brad Fraser and Joey Miller, directed by Fraser, with Thom Allison, Lorretta Bailey, Tamara Bernier, Susan Henley and Timothy Murphy. Presented by Canadian Stage (26 Berkeley). Runs to November 18, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday 1:30 pm and Saturday 2 pm (until October 21) from October 23 Monday-Thursday 8 pm, Friday 7 and 11 pm, Saturday 3 and 8 pm. $20-$40, limited Monday pwyc and same-day half-price rush. 368-3110. Rating: NN

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