Other Bother

Both the title of Performance Gallery’s Other Bother and the show itself is split into two halves. The first half is filled with some rather murky stage material that is just other, while the second provides some inventive scene-making defi

click to enlarge 'Other Bother'
'Other Bother'

Both the title of Performance Gallery’s Other Bother and the show itself is split into two halves. The first half is filled with some rather murky stage material that is just other, while the second provides some inventive scene-making definitely worth bothering about.The architecture of the show is a series of scripted but improv-based vignettes, each exploring the theme of social bifurcation and the ever-present dynamic of “us vs. them.” The first of these delivers a birth sequence in which four of the cast members (Maya Farhat, Willemien Patterson, Patrick E. Phillips and Samantha Russell) are born into a world of darkness. Two older beings (Justin Lee and Jodie Linver) comically enslave them, while teaching them to fear the beam of a flashlight and the illumination that follows. The allegory here is a bit thick and the dialogue not rich enough to make this more than a single-note concept that leaves the audience in the actual and metaphorical dark. Two skits that follow — a Pentecostal-type church revival and a storming of a castle in which a monster lives peaceably — add a little more clarity to the proceedings, but they feel like lesser versions of borrowed material.The show starts to spark, however, when the characters play two sides of a battle, each army waiting in the dark cold of night on Christmas Eve (called ‘Festival Eve’ for the non-denominational). When the battle begins, the actors shift their scene and characters to a small family in a nearby village, who decides to leave home once the battle starts to rage. The musical number that follows — a sleigh ride where mother and father try to save their two small children from a pack of (dancing) wolves pursuing them — is wild and fearful fun. Had the rest of Other Bother reached for this level of imaginative whimsy, it could have been one of the best shows of this season’s Fringe Festival. As it is, the production wanders around just a little too long before it finally walks into the light.

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