by Jennifer Miller (@saskagirl)
Comedy, Family, Solo | 45 Minutes
Zut alors! Un play en francais? Ben.. kind of.
In Portable #3: Not Just Another French Class, Alexander Gibson takes us back to a time when we couldn’t be trusted to keep our hands to ourselves, quit asking “why,” or make it through an hour without a bathroom break: elementary school French class.
Channelling Dr. Seuss, Will Smith, Abraham Lincoln and his mom, Monsieur Gibson runs the audience through the trials and tribulations of a first-year French teacher with energy, enthusiasm, and even a little alliteration. Gibson plays himself (or a version thereof), a recent MA graduate struggling to recall his passion for teaching when faced with administrative burdens, unexpected lockdowns, a chorus of seven-year-old critics, and the odd “special accident” on the basketball court.
This show runs in a mixture of English and second-grade French, complete with exaggerated gestures (all part of the curriculum). Gibson’s frequent cutaways to quick parodies recall the best of The Simpsons, and by sticking largely to monologues, he’s able to build momentum and avoid the jumping back and forth between characters that is the pitfall of many one-man shows.
Gibson played to a nearly full house on opening night, and the crowd was friendly, jumping into audience participation unprompted (and leaping to its feet at the end of the show). Gibson rode their momentum nicely, building energy as he went. If there was one hiccup, it was the improv aspect of the night: audience members were handed post-its on their way in and asked to share past teachers’ methods of class control. The wide variety of responses didn’t suit Gibson’s model; pauses to draw and read the post-its broke the flow, and the unpredictability took away from what was otherwise a tightly cued show.
Otherwise, Gibson was charming, the show moved quickly, and I was moved to brush up on my French. And to thank my second-grade teacher. Merci, Mlle Delorme!
Portable #3: Not Just Another French Class by Alexander Gibson and Matty Burns is playing at the Venue 2 – Arts Court Library (2 Daly Avenue) on Saturday, June 21 at 11:00 PM; Sunday, June 22 at 8:00 PM; Tuesday, June 24 at 6:30 PM; Thursday, June 26 at 9:00 PM; and Saturday, June 28 at 4:00 PM. Tickets are $10.