Merk du Soleil (Stage 21, El Cortez Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar)
Well, one thing about this show is its wonderful venue, the downstairs mine/vault of El Cortez, one of the city’s hippest, best-designed restaurants. There’s a bar down there and you can sip a nice drink as you ponder what the hell is going on onstage. Upstairs, tacos al pastor beckon.
It’s all in quotations, this one, and we shouldn’t be taking anything seriously. Whatever the concept, it’s basically a sort of wonky variety show, where sparkly, unitard-ed Merk (Edmonton playwright/ director/ co-designer Rebecca Merkley) keeps procrastinating from performing a death-defying trick. Helping her out in a series of bits and running gags — that include a terrible standup comic, an elephant guy, God Save the Queen whilst waving rainbow Pride banners, and so much, much more — are one-man-band Chet (Andrew Brostrom), Spruce Grove Boob E (Kristina Hunszinger) Spruce Grove Boob J (Josh Travnik).
It’s stupid, really stupid, and if that is the intent, so be it. These are actually talented, attractive, theatre-schooled players who can sing, dance and play with high energy and almost save this seemingly thrown-together, if studiously un-pretentious, muddle. If you’re looking for a 45-minute diversion (a drink helps) that will support some local actors and musicians, give it a whirl.
— Alan Kellogg