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Fresh Meat Festival 2021. Photo Provided by Fresh Meat.

Fresh Meat Reviews: Roundup of four performances at the fest’s second weekend

By Livia Belcea on October 22, 2021

Apt613 is stoked to share a sneak peek of four performances at the Fresh Meat festival. Check out all of our reviews below, with time to spare to snag some tickets for showtimes this weekend!

Note: Apt613 was given permission to review two of the five plays being performed in this weekend’s Fresh Meat festival lineup.


W(We) by Elizabeth Emond-Stevenson

In this high-energy medley of dance, theatre and social justice, six quasi-professional female wrestlers are out to smash the patriarchy, restore justice, and bring equality through intersectional feminism. W(We) uses play, humour, and movement to educate the audience through several teachable moments about the discrimination women continue to face and the necessity of applying an intersectional lens when learning to understand the experiences of others.

This performance was upbeat and fun, with bright, elaborate costumes and punny dialogue. Engaging the concept of intersectionalism through the use of a hyper-masculine symbol like wrestling was interesting. While the dance segments performed by seasoned dancers were beautiful, a distinct storyline was missing from the piece. In addition, the selection of the song “Ne Me Quitte Pas” by Jacques Brel for one of the dance segments seemed strange and out of place.

 

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God, that’s funny by Christina Muehlberger

What starts off as a traditional comedy show slowly morphed into a personal coming-of-age story, but Christina Muehlberger keeps the audience laughing and engaged with her anecdotes of growing up in the hyper-religious Pentecostal Church. From her mother filtering the movies she can watch through a Pentecostal movie guide to trying to impress her first crush at church by speaking in tongues, to learning to reconcile the expectations of her faith with her femininity, God, that’s funny packs a lot of comedy into a very short time.

Muehlberger is a skilled comedian who has experience working the crowd, but the introduction of serious topics such as domestic abuse and violence against women could have been better integrated within the mostly humorous performance. The stark contrast between humour and pain was jolting and unexpected—and perhaps that was deliberate. That said, scattering a few hints of what would be broached later in the play might have added depth to her character and created a stronger connection to the audience.

 

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Unmatched by Eve Beauchamp, Caity Smyck, and Rachel Van Lanen

How do you tell the person you’re on a first date with that you’d like it to… end? I imagine this is a highly probable conundrum in today’s dating scene. This resonant scenario makes Unmatched, a collection of true first-date stories, relatable and enjoyable. The stories are told by one woman (Caity Smyck) while she is waiting for her date to arrive at the theatre. Smyck’s stories are simultaneously funny, sad, and familiar.

Unmatched is extremely well-structured and makes use of sophisticated theatrical storytelling such as cross-cutting and (mild) audience participation. Smyck is an excellent storyteller and I imagine that she could easily hold the attention of a large audience on her own. While the staging could be refined to match the quality of the play’s structure, Unmatched is well on its way to becoming a fun full-length piece.

GOREgeous by Nick Gray

GOREgeous tells the story of two teens struggling to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse. They roam their devastated city in search of food and their friends who left to find the promise of a safe place called the House of the Rising Sun. Along their search, they meet another survivor who harbours a sinister secret.

Portraying horror on stage is ambitious, particularly as zombie stories tend to dominate television and movie screens. Nick Gray nails it. While the storyline is typical of a zombie flick, it’s tight and well-presented. The play does a great job of maintaining tension and keeping the audience wanting to know more. The dialogue is particularly good: It’s funny, dark, intelligent and conveys just the right amount of information to support a suspenseful unfolding of the plot. Each character is distinct and well-developed, and the staging and costumes work well. GOREgeous is an overall excellent production featuring a talented creator and cast.

 

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Be/Loved by Sarah Haley

In this intimate, raw performance, Sarah Haley bares the dark state of her relationship with art and with herself. Literally set in the dark, Be/Loved offers a glimpse into Sarah’s psychological and emotional reckoning after feeling broken and betrayed by the very thing that defines her: her artistic practice. Indicative of the notorious torment that afflicts many artists, this piece is both poetic and chaotic, and exposes a longing to be heard and seen that seems to be intrinsic to the human condition.

 

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W(We), God, that’s funny, Unmatched, GOREgeous and Be/Loved are playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) from Oct. 21–23, 2021. They’re part of a five-show evening of short plays from 7:30–10 p.m. All shows aim at a 20-minute run time. In-person tickets cost $25, while Livestream tickets are “pick your price” from $5, $10, $20, or $50. Visit the Fresh Meat website for the full lineup, schedule, and COVID-19 safety information.