Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult
August 12 to 21st, 2011
Late August is a quiet time for theatre in Calgary, the Fringe is over and all the professional theatre companies are enjoying their last few weeks of rest before the regular season begins. But all is not lost for those seeking a late summer cultural injection – in fact just a mere 3 hours north of us in Edmonton is one of the world’s best and largest Fringe Festivals with 188 plays on offer this year.
I spent just 3 days at the Edmonton Fringe in 2010, and trust me, it was well worth the drive. Yes, some of the plays are the same as the Calgary Fringe, but with so many choices and so many well-reviewed plays from other festivals and cities, there is tons to choose from.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it up there this year, but if you are lucky enough to be headed to the festival (or are already there) I have one strong recommendation for you – a magnificently witty and intelligent play that I saw at the Toronto Fringe Festival 3 years ago that I still think and laugh about.
Jesus in Montana is Barry Smith’s one man show about his real life experience participating in a doomsday cult after meeting and living with a man who claimed to be the return of Jesus. Fortunately for us, Smith grew tired of waiting for the oft-promised Apocalypse and eventually left the cult, later writing his thought-provoking and hilarious comedy about his involvement and the group members he came to know.
Using traditional story-teller methods mixed in with the one of the most clever uses of multi-media presentations I have ever seen at a Fringe show, Smith’s show tries to explain to audiences just how a seemingly normal guy winds up in such an odd situation and then how he gets out of it. There are photos, and audio and home movies and graphs that all contribute not only to the story, but also comically punctuate the narrative and even times mock the story-teller himself.
It’s been a while since I saw the show, and therefore I can’t give you a detailed review of the performance the way I have other plays. But I can say that Jesus in Montana has stuck with me through the years and it remains one of my all-time favourite Fringe shows ever.
For the guys – Bizarre and funny and full of male angst gone weirdly awry. SEE IT
For the girls – Hilarious story of a somewhat lost boy getting mixed up with strangeness and finding his way out again. SEE IT
For the occasional audience – More than just a solo performance there is a lot going on in this show thanks to the audience friendly multi-media elements. Plus you’ll laugh all the way through. SEE IT
For the theatre junkie – The bells and whistles of the multi-media actually add to the play as opposed to compensating for its shortcomings. Great performance and great narrative. And did I mention that it’s hilarious? SEE IT