Where forth art thou, Cornelius & Titania? A Fringe Theatre Review

15 Sep

  • Played at the 2018 Victoria Fringe Festival

If William Shakespeare and Ricky Gervais were to meet, I am sure the play they would create together would be like Pamela Bethel‘s Cornelius & Titania or A Tragedy of the Commons (A Comedy). The bureaucracy found in many an office, middle-management, higher management—whatever the case may be, is handled by Cornelius (Tallas Munro). He’s accepted the fact he will never appear in Hamlet, whenever it is performed. The words he set on paper created real people. That is, they have souls. Existence is fleeting. Without reciting the words from the bard’s own hand, the performer is not channelling the spirit of those characters he created.

When Titania (Christina Patterson) gets replaced by hologram technology, this Faerie Queene is at a loss. I can only imagine how the stage play she is from would look with laser projections and robots taking over. This gentle breeze tries to adjust to “office” life, waiting for the chance to return. Magic no longer works because it’s not in the pages of this show I was watching. Other characters like Hecate get a mention, which leads me to believe the “real world” is set in the future, where computer programs have replaced many human performers. Shades of The Congress can be felt here.

This show offers a few satirical moments, not only with what Shakespeare’s work represents but also with whom controls life. The fax machine is the only interface to the real world. For a moment, I thought the Moirai are at work. They handle the threads of destiny which bind many a person, even those who are fictionalized.

Perhaps I’m reading more into this work than in what Brethel intended. Her characterizations of these titular characters are not without a few moments of pop culture familiarity. From the 70s sitcom, Bewitched, I felt Patterson’s portrayal of Titania had a touch of Samantha Stephens spunky attitude. Munro’s steadfastness has nothing to compare to. His gift for character voices in the play’s start had me wondering if he’ll be auditioning for Jim Henson Company. In all seriousness, this emerging talent is worth following.

In this void where they exist, The Bureau, they simply keep busy with mundane tasks. I’m sure a mythos exists, but that would require a follow-up tale. This one-off is sadly that, and I feel it should at least tour the Pacific Northwest Fringe Theatre circuit. With this experimental project, I can see the potential for it to grow or evolve into a web series. Bethel is an accomplished playwright and most of her shows have played at select festivals around the world. Should this sleeper hit find a following, I’m sure she will fashion a follow-up. My curiousity is peaked.

4 Stars out of 5

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