Staycation (Stage 2, Backstage Theatre)
By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
The good thing about being a career conspiracist with a specialty in apocalypses is this: it just takes one. The downside: being right and getting vindicated has a major built-in glitch.
With Staycation, the agile Portland duo who brought us a couple of screw-up showbiz magicians in Perpetual Wednesday a Fringe or two ago are back, with a messy and meandering physical comedy adventure/vaudeville. It stars a couple of goofball roommates who barricade themselves in their apartment to save themselves from the end of the world. Which is, after all, no reason not to do spirited dance party numbers from time to time.
The clown dynamic is classic: Walter’s the manic bossy one, the obsessive upstager; the bespectacled Bruce is the malleable one with the wheedly voice. Walter, he of the fierce smile and the pointy tinfoil dunce helmet, sees apocalyptic signs everywhere — Dorito-flavoured Mountain Dew? “You’re welcome, Canada!”. Bruce, who wears socks with his Birkenstocks, is on his own career path: dolphin trainer. “Welcome, everyone, to Sea World.”
There’s a sort of bendable “plot,” involving a crack in “the wall” between realities, or our limited human comprehension of cosmic conspiracies, or whatever. Walter and Bruce are forever diving through a plastic curtain, and ending up as cut-out puppets in a kind of shadow-play wonderland ruled by a monster. “OMG, it’s the most beautiful effect I’ve seen at a Fringe!” declares Walter. Actually, it does look quite fancy, in a chaotic sort of way.
Speaking of walls (and the tearing down thereof), in time-honoured vaudeville fashion, the proverbial fourth wall is there to be spray-painted with vaguely topical slightly past-its-best-before jokiness. Or ignored altogether. “That seems like it’ll be pertinent in the next scene.”
There are pratfalls. There are songs. Someone will get slapped by a rubber fish.… You know, that sort of thing.
It’s an amiable, scrambly entertainment by a couple of hard-working, likeable vaudevillians. Whether you find this riotous, temporarily diverting, or an over-extended very labour-intensive way to be playful depends a bit on your own sense that the end is nigh. I had the middling reaction.
As seen at the Winnipeg Fringe.