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Photo: Sam Kruger

Fringe Review: Bat Brains or (let’s explore mental illness with vampires)

By Mer Weinhold on June 17, 2019

Bat Brains or (let’s explore mental illness with vampires)
by Sam Kruger
60mins / 14+ / Solo / Comedy / Physical

Bat Brains opens with its actor and playwright Sam Kruger in plain clothes, sharing a short anecdote about a health problem from a few years back, as he puts on his vampire costume for the main part of the show. Without this background to situate the following scenes, I would have found it very difficult to follow. However, by establishing the themes in advance, Kruger can jump straight into zany high-energy comedy. I expect I missed several jokes, as wearing vampire fangs impedes clear diction.

It’s hard to pick out a clear narrative, since disordered thoughts are a central theme that the play is designed to communicate. A cacophony of voices periodically overwhelms all onstage dialogue, further muddying and confusing events. Nonetheless, the audience on opening night managed to pick out the punchlines, at least, Kruger kept them laughing throughout the show.

ODD Box isn’t the best venue for a one-person show. The front rows nearest the stage and the elevated seating are the only places that provide a clear line of sight to the stage – too far to the edge and it can be hard to see what’s happening.

Unfortunately, the opening night performance ran into several tech problems. A few sound cues were late or mistimed throughout the performance, and then they stopped entirely about five minutes before the end of the show, leaving Kruger to finish on his own. This will presumably be cleared up in future performances.

Lastly, this review may not be accurate for very long. This was the very first performance, and Kruger stated the show was likely to change significantly over the course of the festival. Since opening night very nearly sold out, interested festival-goers would be wise to see Bat Brains sooner rather than later.


Bat Brains or (let’s explore mental illness with vampires) by Sam Kruger is playing at ODD Box (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 23, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.


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