Imaginary Friend: A New Musical (Venue 35, La Cité francophone Theatre)
By Alan Kellogg
It’s been a good year for original Edmonton musicals at the Fringe. And here is another local production worthy of your notice, written by Stephen Allred and Seth Gilfillan, with music by Daniel Belland.
Things are a mess in a working class household. Single mother Pamela is having a terrible time keeping things together, working overtime for a disgusting (male) lecherous creep of a boss who seems to have invented new methods of sexual harassment in the office place.
Meanwhile, daughters teen Lea and 8- (or is it 10-year-old) Juliette are forced spend the long mum-less hours figuring out what to do. They’re running out of frozen dinners, and the lights and heat keep running our due to unpaid bills.
Lea’s escape is her (real) “digital girlfriend,” a love interest she rarely gets to see, while Juliette’s seemingly imaginary cloven-footed friend Rocky (his full name comes clear later) keeps her company and fills her naïve head with general awfulness. Gradually, we learn of his overall plan of possession, and it isn’t pretty. A serious denouement is building up, and it finally happens.
There are uneven performances here and, in the beginning, some intonation issues with a couple of the generally winning singers. Ditto with the dialogue. But the relatively few technical glitches never overwhelm the story or our young Straight Edge Theatre performers, who give it their all.
Imagine: writing an original musical for the local Fringe with a live band and a tale that keeps us engaged, with some laughs and some genuine creepiness. Full marks for the cast and creators: the large house thoroughly enjoyed their work.