Fringe Reviews — Loon & Criminal Genius


Lantern Church Sanctuary

Wonderheads’ Loon is a simple and quirky story about a lonely middle-aged man who falls in love with the moon. And what works so well is that it doesn’t take long for the audience to fall in love with the protagonist.

Actually perhaps “fall in love” isn’t quite the turn of phrase. The man himself is played by Kate Braidwood appearing in an oversized mask adorned with red hair surrounding a generous bald spot and featuring an expression of permanent bewilderment. His middle-aged loveless life unfolds without any words spoken relying instead on the backdrop of a finely constructed soundscape.

We were already sympathizing with him as we watch him unsuccessfully try to find love through a matchmaking service as Bachelor 378 (Occupation? Janitor. Favourite Person? Mom. Talents? None.) And we were fully rooting for him when we watch him alone in his apartment don a cape read a favourite book and imagine himself as a heroic intergalactic adventurer (bald spot and all).

And then he notices that beautiful glowing orb of the moon….

I can’t really quantify how Braidwood makes her character and his story so evocative when she has neither words nor facial expressions at her disposal—but she does so well and so naturally that you forget that it’s an actor in a mask on stage.

Loon is directed by Andrew Phoenix (the other half of Wonderheads) and is gently funny whimsical and very moving when you get down to it. This is a beautiful play that you shouldn’t miss—and definitely keep Wonderheads on your radar for next year.



Alexandra Centre

Criminal Genius is a thoroughly delightful quirky black comedy by Canadian playwright George F. Walker. (I admit to always seeking out the rare Fringe show penned by a well-known playwright because at least I’ll be assured of hearing competent dialogue.)

Criminal Genius sees a bumbling father and son criminal team screw up a job. Instead of burning down a restaurant as they were hired to do they kidnap the cook… who turns out to be more than just any old cook.

This sets off a chain reaction of events that puts the duo and their crime boss and the cook in a heap of hot water. (Oh and the drunken hotel owner — played by a very funny Dan Gibbins — who is only after the $40 he’s owed for a room also gets involved.)

The play is funny – especially the exchanges between father and son – with a well-developed story. The folks behind the production are those affiliated with Calgary’s Scorpio Theatre.