Reviewed by Travis Facette
by Monica Ogden & Tony Adams
58 min / Comedy, Experimental / PG
LUB DUB begins with two people, bent forward in profound and intense concentration, sticking Kleenex as far into their noses as possible. Minutes later, several members of the audience voluntarily join them. I don’t think I’m willing to spoil it by telling you why.
As you can imagine, this is an odd little show, but it’s also warm and endearing. Though some portions are explicitly political, engaging with intersectional feminism and the oppression of Indigenous peoples, the show doesn’t really have a direct goal or agenda. It floats comfortably between answering audience questions (submitted anonymously and without any restrictions), short sketches both improvised and structured, rehearsed personal stories, and gentle audience interaction. They don’t always manage to escape a sense of affectation, but they never veer into the pretentious. There are no heavy-handed allegories or metaphors here.
One of my favourite moments was when Tony Adams, who confessed he just can’t seem to get the hang of singing despite his performance experience and love of music, pushed through his nerves and self-consciousness to give us a little duet with the other performer, Monica Ogden. As he loosened up, and with Monica to guide him, he started to hit his notes and stay on pitch, and he even succeeded with a few small trills and flourishes. This adorable and earnest little scene really characterized the show—an opening-up, a display of vulnerability, and an encouragement for the audience to reciprocate.
The words “collaborative” and “experience for audiences to be a part of” can set off warning bells, but early in the show Ogden talks about consent and how it’s important in almost every aspect of our lives, and she sticks to that principle: though the show has plenty of audience participation, it’s always voluntary and never forced. I made monkey sounds and put pepper up my nose, but I didn’t feel pressured to do it.
Though loose and a bit aimless at times, the show was always engaging, and I think the artists’ own description of LUB DUB as “an experiment in being together” was quite apt. I was a bit wary when I came in, but I left feeling happy, relaxed and recharged.
LUB DUB is playing at The Improv Embassy (176 Rideau St) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.