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[Victoria Fringe Festival ’16] Does Not Play Well With Others Deftly Explores The Price of Celebrity

Metro Studio Theatre
1411 Quadra Street
Victoria, BC

Thu Sept 1 – 6:30pm
Sat Sept 3 – 6:45pm

Continues at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival beginning September 9 at the Revue Stage.

After watching the documentary I am Big Bird, I felt more than prepared for the Fringe theatre performance of Does Not Play Well With Others. Both products look at children’s entertainment from different perspectives. The former was more of a biography about Caroll Spinney. All the trails, tribulations and experiences he went through to be Big Bird is nicely explored. The Fringe show looks at the trials and tribulations of two puppeteers, played by Adam Francis Proulx and Kira Hall, who are the creative minds behind lovable Oomph and Bae.

I wished these two puppeteers’ names were mentioned more than once for me to make note of. Not like it really matters, since this tale can apply to any disgruntled union worker, but I wanted some extra detail to make this story more specific than general. For now, I will use these performer’s real names.

This show examines the lives of these puppet masters. After a scandal of fictional children’s entertainer Mr. Lester getting caught in public doing something he should not have with a Kumquat, Proulx and Hall worry about their jobs. When lineups change, so too must the cast associated with that act to wipe out any lingering doubts about the quality of the program. They life of any celebrity, muppets included, is tough. Just ask Miss Piggy.

I was more entertained by the puppets / the fictional television program than the dysfunction Proulx and Hall have. When the camera is rolling, they create two fun loving characters who have their own share of problems, but it’s always neatly resolved. Their song and dance are cute. When the camera is off, the personalities behind them are two adults facing real world problems. Fortunately, this show is not autobiographical, but it did get me thinking. I grew up watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. I have to ask how many of those imagineers got disgruntled over background politics. A few of the concerns these two individuals raised are legitimate. Where could their career be if only they found a different job than the one they got to pay the bills?

Until the fifth-anniversary episode is recorded, these two individuals have to get along. Watching this play is like watching The Simpsons. It’s enjoyable and to see real people express themselves as problem individuals is welcomed. In this show’s case, just what these performers can do next depends if they can climb out of the hole they have dug themselves deep into.

3½ Stars out of 5

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