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As part of Hamilton Fringe 2021

Review by Guest Columnijst Aaron Kropf, Associate Canadian Theatre Critic - www.onstageblog.com


A Show With So Much Potential


It’s a Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest the Cops that Killed Breonna Taylor struggled to make a point, or achieve its' desired outcome. The show, which is part of the 2021 Hamilton Fringe Festival, was a digital exclusive and I don’t think this could have been present in any other form. This provided opportunity for creativity in the presentation.


As with many new productions, I avoided reading the production notes until after the performance because I believe that it’s important for the production to speak for itself.


This is where It’s a Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest the Cops that Killed Breonna Taylor struggled the most.


During the 35 minute show I couldn’t tell if the production was a comedy, being serious, or something else all together. It wasn’t until I took a look at the show notes that it was revealed the show was a “cringe comedy”. They certainly hit moments of cringe throughout, but missed out on anything else.


What gives It’s a Beautiful Day... the potential to be a great show, is that it takes news stories, and social media posts and presents them exactly as they were written (the performers/creators). The way the creators/performers Roselyne Dougé-Charles, Carly Anna Billings, Liz Whitbread, and Patrick Teed presented each segment could have provided some wonderful social commentary, humour, and stinging cringe moments had they made it obvious from their execution of the material that this was meant to be a cringe comedy. It lacked clarity throughout the production. Had the performances been over the top from the beginning, it would have been more clear that that is what the creator/performers were striving to achieve.


As a result the production missed the mark in making its' point. It wasn’t clear what the artists wanted the audience to take away form their show. I believe that so many of us have experienced too many posts that are cringe worthy over the last year and half that the punch and shock the show was striving for was lost.


I wanted to feel something from the show, and waited right until the end to for It’s a Beautiful Day... to make a point; unfortunately, neither came to fruition.


It’s a Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest the Cops that Killed Breonna Taylor is part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival, which runs until July 25, 2021.


For more information, please visit www.hamiltonfringe.com.


Photo taken from Afterlife Theatre Facebook page.


'It's a Beautiful Day for Brunch and to Arrest the Cops that Killed Breonna Taylor' written and performed by Roselyne Dougé-Charles, Carly Anna Billings, Liz Whitbread and Patrick Teed


Directed and Produced by Carly Anna Billings and Patrick Teed

An Afterlife Theatre Production

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By Joe Szekeres, Chief Toronto Columnist/Critic for OnStage Blog: www.onstageblog.com.


A ‘news’ thriller in the style of Alastair MacLean’s ‘Night Without End’, this ‘Blizzard’ is more film rather than theatre.

Reporting the truth of the news through investigation and exploration may be each reporter’s mantra but Fly the Nest Productions twists this core belief into a respectable thriller script which, for me, was reminiscent of the style of Alastair MacLean’s ‘Night Without End’.


From the Fringe website: “‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ explores Truth, Ambition, Trust and what we’re willing to do to achieve our dreams. An ambitious reporter. A crumbling news station. A dream interview. A destructive secret that threatens it all!”


Cue the pathetic fallacy of a raging and blinding snowstorm which reflects the emotions of the characters inside which throw a wrench into everything.


We’re introduced to ambitious news reporter Beverley Campbell (Gwyneth McFall-Gorman) and the only remaining member of her staff, cameraman and sound guy Tim (Tom Lute). It’s small-town Little Bay, British Columbia in the local crumbling television station where the two are preparing for the arrival of reclusive painter Regina (Megan Legesse) who will speak about her new painting ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’. Beverley awaits with great anticipation for the arrival of her guest as this interview could be her ticket out of this crumbling hell hole local station where she can play with the big wigs of The Firm at CNN.


As in all thrillers, events go astray, and we begin to see people for who they really are.


A couple of minor quibbles about the presentation. I can understand how the news team must be at a local station no matter what the weather is outside, but to ask for an interview during a raging storm where no one should be outside just doesn’t ring truth for me. Additionally, I didn’t really receive a natural impression that Regina has just arrived inside a building with a raging blizzard outside. The clothes she is wearing do not naturally fit with what is going on outside.


Jordan Dawson’s camera operation strongly maintains focus where it should be for each moment. ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ reminds me more of a short feature film rather than a theatre piece.


Now, don’t get me wrong as I’m not bashing ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ as I was intrigued to see where the story would take me and how it would conclude.


As reporter Beverley, Ms. McFall-Gorman is everything you want in an ambitious reporter – confident, self-assured with just the right amount of bitchy sassiness. It is this latter part of her character trait which has put her at loggerheads with the other members who work in the studio. Tom Lute is nice guy Tim who looks beyond his co-worker’s awkward trait and continues to defend her because he admires what she stands for. As the plot proceeds, we see that will change.


As guest Regina who harbours a destructive secret, Megan Legesse matches Ms. McFall-Gorman’s performance level in character development and intensity. It is when these two ladies collide in how they react to the unfolding plot which moves ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ ‘s plot along smoothly.


Final Comments: If ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ is staged as a live theatre production once it is safe for all of us to return to the theatre, I would be keen to see it again.


Running time: approximately 43 minutes.


Available at www.hamiltonfringe.com until July 25.


‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ by Steven Griffin

A Fly The Nest Production


Produced & Dramaturgy by Joseph Burdi

Directed by Steven Griffin

Stage Manager/Script Supervision by Lauren Allen

Lighting and Sound Designed by Nathan Bruce

Camera Operation by Jordan Dawson

Graphic Design by Laura Burd


Photo taken from ‘Black Deer in Blizzard’ online program.

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By Joe Szekeres, Chief Toronto Critic and Columnist for www.onstageblog.com


An emotionally brave and courageous 40-minute ride that remains too soon for me at this time.


Wow! ‘Mr. Wonderful and I’ is an extremely heavy, heavy experience of watching someone emotionally crumble before my eyes.


And it’s difficult and a challenge to watch at times. Good theatre and drama sometimes does that. More about this shortly.


We meet MAN (whom I am assuming is playwright Isaac Mulè since I didn’t see any opening or closing credits) in his apartment. He has broken the fourth wall and speaks to us directly. From the Fringe website: “MAN and his unseen dog SHELDON have recently moved but never got the chance to say goodbye. MAN settles into his apartment and is unpacking things which make him look back on his life. He makes the decision to say goodbye and to make amends with people in his life. This soul-searching process is anything but smooth.”


As MAN talks to us, we see him from different angles in his apartment; sometimes, the floor is strewn with various boxes and items hanging out, and that’s perfectly acceptable since MAN is moving in. At one point, he stops the conversation and plays with his unseen dog SHELDON (who becomes the MR. WONDERFUL in MAN’s lonely life). At another point, I could see MAN’s reflection in the hall mirror with his laptop computer, so he was obviously filming using his device.


The script is puzzling. I wasn’t sure if this was a staged presentation for dramatic effect or if this was something with which Mr. Mulè was actually diagnosed and he recorded himself.


Whatever the intentions, ‘Mr. Wonderful and I’ is far too heavy, heavy stuff indeed to ponder and to watch especially since the world we know is slowly emerging from a seventeen-month pandemic where we’ve had to endure at least two lockdowns. Many in the world became sick, many died. People have lost their jobs, their livelihood, some have lost their income on account of Covid.


Let’s face reality here. We won’t be able to snap out of this pandemic and its effects just like that. I suspect we will be experiencing personal fallout emotions and feelings for a long, long time.


But, as this is a review, Mr. Mulè is aware there will always be many opinions. So here goes.


I credit Mulè for his bravery and confidence in staging this presentation. It was a wise choice to warn viewers it may trigger some who are experiencing their own personal struggles, demons and tragedies. Thank you, Isaac, for including many links if people feel the need to reach out for help.


What is it I sometimes hear if people make a comment whether in jest or not? Too soon, too soon.


‘Mr. Wonderful and I’ is too soon right now for me.


The self psychological diagnosis without a medical professional present is indeed worrisome and troublesome in this presentation.


Additionally, we’ve been listening to people tell their stories and their sides of Covid, vaccines, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theories. Black Lives Matter, #metoo, Stop Asian Hate, Residential Schools and the Catholic Church etc. etc. etc. The list is endless.


I am sorry to have learned of your personal struggle (spoiler alert here) with BPD and I won’t even begin to say I understand your struggles because I’m being honest and saying I’ve never experienced your particular emotions affiliated with BPD. I sincerely hope, trust and pray that anyone who suffers from BPD will seek out the professional help needed.


But in comparison of your not finding a meaningful relationship with a steady partner and not finding fulfilling friendships with others just doesn’t cut it with me in this time of the tremendous personal and financial losses through the pandemic and Covid.


Final Comments: ‘Caveat emptor’ ‘Buyer Beware’ and watch at your own risk.


‘Mr. Wonderful and I’ by Isaac Mulè continues to July 25 at www.hamiltonfringe.ca.




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