Margaret Cho's Assassin Tour stopped at Massey Hall March 10, and it proved an appropriate title. She assassinates the GOP and the religious right. Bush has given her a solid comic target. Gone is her penchant for mugging and Valley Girl inflections. She's relaxed and at home in her material.
Some of Cho's observations are crude - do we really need to know what Laura Bush's vagina smells like? But then she'll deconstruct Dubya's fear of women's sexuality, or speculate about why Dick Cheney keeps his lesbian daughter out of the spotlight.
A high point comes when she imagines life in Ray County, Tennessee, a place that wants to outlaw homosexuality. (Cho spells out what that'd be like for the county's hair salons and PE classes.)
A knowing culture critic, she affectionately mocks Asian actor du jour Zhang Ziyi, mimics Björk-gone-berserk, then caps it all with a hilarious impression of a Korean man selling weapons of mass destruction.
Her only misstep is beginning a story about her mother - who suffered a heart attack last year - and then leaving us hanging. Cho's always had heart as a performer, but she doesn't dig as deep as she could.
The Paprika Festival gets stronger each year. This time around, the quartet of shows by emerging theatre artists under 21 offers both good writing and memorable performances.
Hannah Cheesman's absurdist-tinged comedy Mi Amiga Arde was appealingly brought to life by Cheesman and Alexandra Draghici . Performing what you write seems to be a trend this year: playwright Emma Healey appeared with Kalyna Franko in her script Janet , which uses parallel monologues to present two very different and disturbed high-schoolers. Healey's writing makes good use of comedy to ask some compelling questions about what it means to be, or not to be, a member of the in group at school.
The most entertaining piece was writer/director Johnnie Walker's The Zookeeper's Love Song , in which a movie star stalks a fan ( Sam Sutherland ) who's more taken with the movie character than the actual person. Kara Dymond gave allure to the slasher-film headliner, while Amy Duncan was marvellously droll as the fan's sister Jocasta, who falls in love with fictional characters but can't deal with any real-life suitors.
See listings, page 82.