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Fringe Review: Not: A Bev Oda Memoir

By David Currie on June 20, 2019

Not: A Bev Oda Memoir
by Clara Madrenas (e308)
60 min / PG / Solo / Comedy / Satire

Clara Madrenas is at the helm of what the program describes as “blending folk music, Canadiana, visual art and impossibly true stories… this sci-fi satirical-political love story is the Heritage Minute you never knew you wanted.” As you can imagine, this show has a lot of things going on at once.

It has simple and very effective tech, fun animations or slides, an activist spirit, and an interweaving temporal fancy that feels innovative. In a world of limitless information, Not: A Bev Oda Memoir asks us to pay attention to our politics. Funny, sweet, and occasionally thought-provoking, the play is always earnest, maybe even to a fault. Clara Madrenas mocks and dismantles Stephen Harper’s politics and, later, Justin Trudeau’s; she asks us to be on her side. But which side is it?

Clara Madrenas mocks and dismantles Stephen Harper’s politics and, later, Justin Trudeau’s; she asks us to be on her side. But which side is it?

And there lies an issue with this otherwise charming and fun play: It flattens Canadian politics into a right-and-wrong dichotomy, even while demonstrating how one government after another is disappointing and ineffectual. We are asked to believe in something better, but never shown what it is.

The difficulty with partisan politics as a means of governance is that issues flatten and sitting days become about winning and losing. In Not: A Bev Oda Memoir, time flattens, politics flattens, and tensions are elevated. We need to do something now, but what? We need to come together and make some changes—but what do we do? The play offers no answers on that front, but Clara Madrenas is a charming performer, an able singer, and a thought-provoking writer who I’m sure will be a Fringe tour staple for years to come.


Not: A Bev Oda Memoir by Clara Madrenas is playing at Studio 1201 (10 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.