The War of 1812 Hits the 2018 Victoria Fringe Festival, and it’s a Hoot!

31 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Location:
Langham Court Theatre
805 Langham Ct.
Victoria, BC

Remaining Showtimes:
Aug 31 7:15 pm
Sep 01 12:00 pm
Sep 02 8:15 pm

Wes Borg, Morgan Cranny, Mike Delamont, and Rod Peter Jr. need to teach Social Studies! While I can find them performing at the Victoria Fringe Festival, I have to wonder how they can handle a classroom of attention deficit youths. Back when I went to high school, I found Canadian history boring. The War of 1812 gets unpolitically correct. No one is being blamed for how it started, but to see how all three sides (Britain, USA and Canada) dealt with the annexing of trade was explored in comedic context. With this heavyweight of comedic talents—all of whom are well known in the Victoria, BC theatre scene—I can ace any final exam!

I am not sure how accurate the information in the “historical reenactments” is, but this comedic revue had a lot of moments which made me laugh out loud. There were cross-dressing and innuendo. To witness how this country was built certainly puts one song from Jefferson Starship to shame. While it’s easy to build a city on rock and roll, what about the politics and businesses involved? There were pointed shots which I loved. There was never a moment which did not have me in stitches.

When this show started with a student (played by Borg) giving a presentation (it was obvious he had no sense of patriotism) and faster than anyone could say Charles Dickens, he gets visited by the ghost of Pierre Berton and they go back in time to learn how this country was made free. After several battles, role switches and home invasions, this boy gets it. I doubt the adults in the room (the audience) needed reminding, but to see two burly men, an average and one thin figure (Peter Jr.) just have fun made my night. There was singing and clapping, and even wiffle balls being thrown. The gang was not intentionally tripping each other up; I saw moments where giggles had to be stifled.

Borg’s artistry is infectious. He and Paul Mather originally wrote this work back in the late 90’s, and this show has seen revisions over the years and infrequent performances. It was an all musical production back in the early days, and just how much of it was revised requires knowing how the past versions looked. YouTube is great for looking some iterations up. With this new version, I empathized with the wrapping narrative. Plus, I want to see this show (and see Delamont in drag) again. Borg’s lyrical stylings are comparable to that of The Arrogant Worms. Both are similar in content, but to say I love to see all Borg all the time requires paying full attention to what goes on in the theatre scene. Yes, I have been assimilated.

5 Stars out of 5

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