by Vanessa Quesnelle
Concrete Drops Theatre
45 min / Drama / PG
This is a very odd show, and I can imagine it being divisive among audiences. Honestly, I felt rather divided while watching it. Am I enjoying myself? Am I asleep? Am I following? Have I been hypnotized?
Vanessa Quesnelle (last seen at the 2016 Ottawa Fringe in Love is a Battlefield with her partner Martin Dockery) has created a new solo show that may be described as a fusion of forms. From disembodied storytelling to lounge singing to contemporary dance to metatheatrical quarrels between omniscient narrator and subject, the show’s creator seems keen to experiment, test her own limits as a performer, and gift her audience with something a little different. Much of the performance feels like a guided meditation with the narrator’s soothing voice steering you from one dark fairytale image to the next.
The performance begins with Quesnelle sitting dimly lit with her head in her hands, as the recorded voice (presumably her own) of the narrator tells the story of Luna, one of twins, born under mysterious circumstances, who finds herself alone, separated from a stereotypically evil aunt/stepmother-type, in an underwater saloon called The Pickle’s Edge where she works as a bar-back until she meets an unnamed suitor and experiences an entire relationship with him in a matter of minutes before she is once again left alone, at the mercy of the narrator’s next chapter.
Near the end of the story, Luna makes an attempt to invoke empathy by expressing a desire to lead her own narrative, but it was difficult for me to feel any connection to this character of whom we know very little beyond her circumstances. While Quesnelle is completely committed to and engaged in this mythical world she has created, I didn’t necessarily feel that we, the audience, were there with her. Her blending of genres, while inventive and often interesting to observe, was not always inviting, and I was often left feeling that she was floating, trance-like, above our heads, and that our presence was only incidental.
Luna by Vanessa Quesnelle is playing at Studio Léonard-Beaulne (135 Séraphin-Marion) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.