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Fringe Review: Cardinal

By François Levesque on June 19, 2016

47 minutes | Clown | G

A clown show about Alzheimer’s? Lucky me, I thought sarcastically about my assignment. But accurate first impressions aren’t always my forte. Academic Hall was abuzz last night ahead of Mitchel Rose and Madeleine Hall’s performance. Academically trained clowns – the former at the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques LeCoq and the latter at the École Philippe Gaulier – the two conveyed the hardship of Alzheimer’s through a wordless tragicomic duel between memory and disease.

The physicality of their performance, particularly Rose’s turn as “memory”, was striking. He conveys fear, joy and paranoia brilliantly while Hall, as disease, pokes holes in his memory with all of the mischief of a giddy child.

The simple stage setting – two walls, a door, and chairs – uses a binary colour scheme to reinforce the play’s themes, with cardinal red representing memory and white representing its loss. The concept provides an almost Inside/Out mood where you feel like you’re inside this Alzheimer’s patient’s head. The tug of war between them is expressed skillfully through games of musical chairs, hide and seek, mimics, and even checkers.

Though the play could have been edited down to avoid unnecessary repetition, the chemistry between both actors kept it from lagging. The soundtrack would have benefited from more attention. The play’s most enjoyable moments were accompanied by music, which could have been more present throughout, and the timing of some of the sound effects needed a tweak.

These are minor details in an overall strong play which ends on a gut-wrenching and — if you know anything about Alzheimer’s — entirely predictable note.

Cardinal plays inVenue 2 – Academic Hall on Sunday, June 19 at 4:30pm; Tuesday, June 21 at 10:00pm; Thursday, June 23 at 7:30pm; Saturday, June 25 at 3:30pm and Sunday, June 26 at 6:00pm. Tickets $12.