Fringe St-Ambroise Montréal 2018  Festival : "Carmilla" and "Queens of the Crypt"

     by Luc Archambault

     Two plays where Femininity trumps Masculinity, without a doubt. First off,«Carmilla», an adaptation stemming from a gothic novella published in 1871 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the first piece of literature which featured a lesbian vampire (Carmilla). This plays brings to the stage this gothic novel, in which the young Laura is seduced and becomes prey to the advances of Carmilla, to the growing concern of her father. 

 @Sly Feiticeira

     This adaptation «à la Fringe» (economy of means, hyper realist play, and a wee bit unequal) is entertaining, in spite of a heavy-handed text. The performance of the two main protagonists (Laura, played by Stella Kulagowski, and Carmilla, played by Heath V. Salazar) is engaging and credible throughout the play, which even holds a few burlesque surprises (!).  A nice bet, artistically served, and delivered excellently.

 @Sly Feiticeira 

Queens of the Crypt

     With this one, the expectations were very high. Because the company  «Viva Diverse Productions» had conquered us all last year with its decadent and baroque  «Cabaret Abnormal», one of our favorite shows of last year's Fringe Festival. Produced and directed by Mikki Michelle, who gracefully also plays in this burlesque show, this performance is an extravaganza in which Queens of the Night compete for the title of Killer Queen. This is a fast-paced hour that crowns magnificently a Fringe day (the showings are held uniquely at eleven pm). 

 @ Frank Lam Photography

     In spite of the bubbling presence of Mikki Michelle, I must admit that the all-feminine cast lacks a certain equilibrium, especially when one compares it to last year's "Cabaret Abnormal". Elias Halwaji's performance, as a fucked-up show-host, with a growing drunkenness with each passing minute/drink served, is truly and painfully missing from this newer edition. Of course, such a free-spirited electron brought his share of chaos to each performance, but this improvised character forced each and every player out of his or her comfort zone. And this is what is lacking this year.

@ Frank Lam Photography

     So, in spite of the highly burlesque register of each performance, there's a pitch of salt, a dash of madness that is missing. Like a drunken contagion that brought with himself mr. Halwaji. And it's a shame, even though madame Michelle and her costars let their strut run free onstage.  


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