I’ve had a love-adore relationship with Bouffon since I first experienced it at the Toronto Festival of Clowns in 2010. I’ve had a love-adore relationship with feminism since I’ve been able to comprehend the abstract notion of gender and gender roles. Therefore, it is fair to say that I absolutely adored Play It Again Productions’ Death Married My Daughter playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Death Married My Daughter is the result of imagining that Othello’s Desdemona and Hamlet’s Ophelia come back from the dead to castigate the patriarchy that is ultimately responsible for their demise. It challenges our ideas of who the heroes of literature are. It asks us to re-examine the importance of women in society and culture.
For those who don’t know, Bouffon is sometimes described as clown’s dark and reviled cousin. The bouffon is the ultimate outcast and misfit of society and uses satire to poke fun at authority, society and the status quo.
The show opens and closes with Desdemona and Ophelia dragging themselves across the stage and what happens in between is theatrical brilliance.
Desdemona and Ophelia stage each other’s deaths. They host a conservative conference at which Ann Coulter delivers a keynote address on anti-feminism and anti-abortion.
They flay Rush Limbaugh and the notorious conspiracy theorist and defender of the second amendment, Alex Jones. They take shots at renowned dictators such as Hitler, Stalin and Pinochet. They criticize war and its perpetrators.
They search for and delight in catharsis by making noises comparable to those made by a hatchling of any species.
They are rude, vile, sexually inappropriate, transgressive and absolutely fabulous.
Nina Gilmour and Danya Buonastella are fantastic as Desdemona and Ophelia. They are both full of kinesthetic and facial expression and they work exceptionally well together. They are both skilled and gifted creators and performers and so wonderful to watch.
The transitions between subjects were immaculate. The stage was used well. Props including babies, tongs, a wicker case, hats and two skewers were used efficiently. Everything in this show (dialogue, hair, make-up, props, costumes) mattered; no opportunity was wasted.
At the end of the fifty-minute show, my brother remarked that the performance was short. I replied that fifty minutes was civilized. “Yes, but when it’s good, it feels short,” he said.
My brother is a hard person to please and he wore a smile on his face for the entire performance. When the show isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, it is always entertaining.
Death Married My Daughter will make waves wherever it performs. It is essential viewing for anyone who is politically engaged and for anyone who identifies as an artist, feminist, thespian, misfit, outcast and defender of humanity.
- Death Married My Daughter is playing at the Tarragon Mainspace (30 Bridgman Ave.)
- Showtimes: Friday July 5, 8:45 PM Saturday July 6, 7:30 PM Monday July 8, 1:00 PM Wednesday July 10, 5:45 PM Thursday July 11, 11:30PM Friday July 12, 11:00 PM Sunday July 14th, 3:30PM
- Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
- Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Image of Death Married My Daughter provided by Play It Again Productions