By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Die-Nasty (Varscona Theatre)
Well, this is a bit awkward.
I finally caught up mid-week with Die-Nasty, the improvised serial soap with the late-night Fringe edition that’s actually set at the Fringe and about the Fringe (and let’s face it, the Fringe is pretty weird.) In this fringified town it’s a must-see comedy institution. It takes that meta-phenom of the Fringe show about Fringe shows to an entirely new and stratospheric level.
The Die-Nasty cast, with guests, rotates through the nightly performances, directed by Ron Pederson, with scene intros that are hilarious in themselves. Yup, there was Mark Meer’s very funny Hunter S. Thompson character, renamed Fisher T. Johnson, conducting interviews for his podcast Children of a Lesser Pod. His interviewee Wednesday night was Bart Gold (Wayne Jones), celebratory realtor, whose face is on every bus stop bench in Old Strathcona. As we learn in the improvised self-introductions at the outset, he’s not at the Fringe to find the next great Edmonton play (unlike everyone else … just kidding) but on the lookout for his fourth (“and best”) wife.
Here’s a hoot: Jacob Banigan is Spiro Gerussi, swaggering heir to the Canadian star legacy (a possible oxymoron) of his dad Bruno, of ancient Beachcombers legend. Reeking of entitlement, he’s in a Fringe play. And cowboy-turned-playwright Cooter James (Tom Edwards) isn’t happy with his work: Spiro has skewed the delicate tragic-comic (or is it comi-tragic?) balance of the piece.
Dr. Grimshaw (Stephanie Wolfe), the chief psychiatric officer of the Fringe, has a lot to work with, lie about, fudge, etc. She was having a day about town Wednesday night. The Mill Woods mall got a mention.
Naturally, there’s an emerging playwright (Tyra Banda), taking the momentous next step after Nextfest, premiering her gritty new play Fuck You Stephanie. There’s the Toronto actor of Method stripe and all-black wardrobe (Emma Ryan), reeking of noblesse oblige, who’s at the Edmonton Fringe to seek out pain.
And then, O No, there was a hapless, dithering theatre reviewer (Kristi Hansen) with a name similar (well, identical) to mine. She’s been cutting a swath through the Fringe. “I’ve recently become a murderer and an artistic director,” she says apologetically. Apparently the night before, Liz strangled rumpled, entirely affable Fringe artistic director Murray Utas (Matt Schuurman) in a fit of … what? pique? deadline pressure? murderous rage? evil? ruthless ambition (from seeing too many productions of the Scottish play)? Is this a natural extension of the theatre reviewer’s job (discuss amongst yourselves). I’m sure Liz has an entirely viable watertight alibi.
At last night’s Die-Nasty, I’m told, Liz was at it again. OK, one murder could be, like, accidental, right? Making a habit of it, well….
How can it all be resolved? This is the big unknown I leave you with. Meanwhile, I really have to do something about my hair.