Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2015 Winnipeg Fringe Festival.This year I’ve taken holidays and plan to watch 20 or more shows. Being on holidays means that I will be able to enjoy these shows at a nice, leisurely pace. It also means I have more time to hang around The Cube at Old Market Square.
Hanging out there also means you are more likely to run into performers promoting there shows. I have mixed feelings about this, as I often find the aggressive character of these promotions are enough in and of themselves to put me off of the show. Such was not the case when Kathleen Denny stopped to talk about her show Nice is not What We Do (tales of death and families).
She started off by letting me know that yesterday was half price day for the show. It was also a late show which worked with my schedule. Then we talked a little bit about being members of large families. We both have five siblings, and both agreed that our experiences of our fathers was different from what our siblings experienced.
Show Times: Planetarium Theatre
Nice is Not What We Do: The Show
The stage for Nice is Not What We Do, consists of a single chair stage in the centre of the stage, and backstage right, a table with a coffee mug and a book on it. The play opens with Denny, as herself receiving a call from her mother telling her that her father has died. From there the play enters into the reunion of the family and Ms. Denny’s memories as they prepare for and go through the funeral.
The play is mainly focused on Denny’s relationship with her dad. This is natural but one of the things that I found missing was the way in which it compared to the relationships her siblings shared with her father. There are a couple of passing references but not enough to fill out the complexity of the family dynamics.
There is a lot of humour in the play. I thought the best part of Denny’s acting was when she did the receiving line scene. Particularly how well she captured the variety of people that come through, that you have to respond to.
While the play lays out the differences that arise out of competing memories, I felt that it lacked the tension that such differences generally create. One cause for that was the lack of differentiation in the characters she played. On one or two occasions I had difficulty knowing which character was speaking.
The other thing I felt missing was a lack of finality. Again, a couple of references, but little of the “what I wish I could have told Dad,” or “what I wish my Dad had told me.” In the end I never felt drawn into Ms. Denny’s grief and loss. However, I recommend you take the time to go see this play and decide for yourself.
If you wish to learn more about Ms. Denny, she invites people to learn more about her through her Facebook Page.