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Undercurrents Theatre Festival: It’s runaway hormones! Don’t miss Morro and Jasp Do Puberty!

By Barbara Popel on February 17, 2014

Finally, Ottawa has a chance to see accomplished Toronto clown sisters Morro (Heather Marie Annis) and Jasp (Amy Lee) in their brilliant show about that emotionally fraught time in a teenage girl’s life – puberty.   The opening night audience had a blast.  I thought some of us were going to fall out of our seats, we were laughing so hard.

Every scene was only a slight exaggeration of reality.  Perhaps not even an exaggeration.  These two seem to have excavated every horrible/magical/cringe-inducing/exciting memory of their teenage years and woven them into this great comedy.

I’m not sure which was my favourite scene.  Maybe Morro’s horrified reaction to the changes taking place in her body – her new “moon time”?  Or her equally strong horror at the idea of attending the school dance, with all the boys lined up against one wall and all the girls lined up against the opposite wall, culminating in the dreaded slow dance at the end of the evening?  “Don’t meet his eyes!  If he asks you and you say “no”, it will break his heart!”

Or maybe it’s tomboyish Morro’s ecstatic description of “soccer-baseball’s” first base, second base, third base and home run, juxtaposed with Jasp’s appalled fascination with the lewd connotations she’s just learned these terms have as slang.

Feminine hygiene products figure large in Morro and Jasp Do Puberty.  Maxi-pads – “these were obviously designed by a man!” – and demonstrations of how to discretely transport one when heading from a classroom to the washroom.  Ouch!  That brought back a few unpleasant memories!

Morro-and-Jasp-2 (cropped)

Photo courtesy of the GCTC

Jasp has been treasuring a box of tampons for 3 years, waiting eagerly for the first time she’ll need to use them.  (By the way, you may never watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again without giggling.)  But Morro is appalled by the design of the tampon – “It’s huge!”  “I’m never leaving this bathroom!”

There’s heartbreak, too.  Jasp has never been asked out on a date, so she’s been exploring her sexuality with the help of a turquoise stuffed toy  named Mr. Peabody.  To me, Mr. Peabody looked like a large flatworm.  No accounting for taste, I suppose.  When the boy of her dreams phones her, we hold our breath . . . but all he wants is to copy her math homework.

Morro is a little more direct with boys – but equally hopeless.  When her soccer-baseball buddy steals a shy kiss, she’s so discombobulated that she hauls off and kicks him in the privates.

Amidst all this hilarity and heartbreak, there are lashes of “mean girl” behaviour.  If you were ever a teenage girl, you know how cruel girls can be to each other.  But Morro and Jasp are inherently kind, and their sisterly love overcomes their nastier impulses.

Warning:  As is to be expected in a clown show, there’s interaction with the audience.  On opening night, folks were good sports and played along beautifully.

If you’re a woman, now’s your chance to relive that awful/exhilarating time of your runaway hormones.  If you’re a man who wants to know what was going on with all those teenage girls you grew up with, now’s your chance to find out.

Either way, you’ll laugh a great deal.  Guaranteed.

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty is playing at the Undercurrents Festival at the Great Canadian Theatre Company on February 19th at 9 pm, 21st at 9 PM and 22nd at 1 pm. Single tickets are $15 + HST.  A three show pass is $40 + HST.  A six show pass is $60 + HST.

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