Well, not fully. Stars and moon provide some illumination, but outdoor company Shakespeare in the Rough's evening performances of Othello also use a dozen or so 6-volt lanterns at the foot of the playing space to illuminate the last act. The rays give an unusually specific meaning to an actor's trying to find the light, since the lit areas are about a foot wide. The evening shows are excitingly different from the matinees, with much of the action's last half-hour taking place at night.
The production really revs up when Othello (passionate Andrew Moodie, who at one point spies on his supposed rival from amidst the audience) is fully taken in by the duplicitous Iago (Richard Alan Campbell, craftily believable) and convinced to strangle his faithful wife, Desdemona (the moving Tova Smith). The fading light and twilight sounds of Withrow Park make a stirring backdrop for the final scenes, and director Michael Waller's clever simultaneous intercutting of scenes adds punch.
Don't worry about losing sight of Moodie in the dimming light. He has his own follow spot, another lantern held behind the audience by an actor who's not onstage. Othello plays through Monday (September 2), with 7 pm evening performances Thursday through Saturday.
the great debate
Neil Muscott's Comedy Debate celebrated its fourth anniversary last week, and it's easy to understand the show's longevity. It's a great opportunity for character comics to flex their improv muscles by debating topics that are sometimes newsworthy, usually silly and always entertaining.
The most successful guests come prepared with detailed back stories for their characters. Joanne O'Sullivan and Rod Crawford's self-help author couple Jan and Phil hilariously self-destructed during their debate about whether pilots should drink and fly. Every word and gesture was dripping with subtext and fucked-up history. They were well matched by the equally imaginative Ruth (Jan Caruana, one of the brightest and most watchable young comics around) and Betty (Sara Buski), two small-town ladies in T.O. to celebrate Ruth's son's commitment ceremony with his partner.
The other strong debate consisted of Adrian Truss's Germanic mad scientist and Bruce Hunter as his walking, talking robot. They debated the topic "Has technology gone too far?" with Dave Tomlinson's soft-spoken Rosedale mom, Dora, and her former Harvergal roomie, cosmetics magnate Genevieve (Second City's Aurora Browne).
It was one of the funniest nights of the year. Not because of anyone's arguments, but for the chance to see a dozen of the city's best comics -- and dry host Muscott -- spark off each other.
gunning for texas
Top Gun! The Musical, the biggest Fringe hit ever, is flying south. Denis McGrath and Scott White's satirical musical is skedded for a five-week run beginning mid-November at Theatre LaB Houston, where, incidentally, another Canadian play, Brad Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains And The True Nature Of Love, just played. Whether there'll be a local remount of the nautical-themed show -- many producers saw the show during the Fringe -- remains, well, up in the air.
A couple of local artists have been tattooing Edinburgh during the enormous -- over 1,000 shows -- Edinburgh Fringe. Volcano, which took Andre Alexis's Lambton Kent to the fest last year, returns this year to the prestigious Traverse Theatre with the world premiere of Weather, co-produced with the Moving Company. Writer/performer Rebecca Hope Terry plays an eccentric weather woman whose moods mirror the severe Canadian winter she reports. Volcano's Ross Manson directs, and don't be surprised if he stages the show in T.O. this coming season.
Another festival hit is a 60-minute version of Velocity, created by Mark Lonergan, NOW coverboy for his production of Jump nearly two years ago. Velocity, billed as New Age vaudeville, has already been seen in Toronto. Playing at Edinburgh's Gilded Balloon Theatre, it's been awarded one of five Spirit of the Fringe Awards. We hope Lonergan, who's been based in New York for the past few years, plans another Toronto production soon.