Eight oddballs are cast in a production in Odd Seed by Nostos Collectives at the digital 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.
While these are not their stories, it’s certainly…odd.
If I had to point out one thing I always deeply respect in a show, it’s the willingness to try something new.
The Nostos Collectives does not rewrite the mockumentary trope in Odd Seed, but they do deliver some uniquely done scenes.
Split into two parts, Odd Seed starts with an interview set-up. We are introduced to eight characters participating in this fictional production. They are all suitably strange. There are some influencers, an eccentric art teacher, a woman who thinks she’s a cat, even an animal groomer.
Character-wise, nothing stands out. They give kooky interviews, get progressively stranger, and then you never have to worry about their personalities again.
Because, in the second part, the format switches to a series of short films that highlight the characters being weird, but this time in scenes. It’s in these vignettes that Nostos Collectives tries something a little different. Specifically, the sections Versus and A Dramatic Conversation. Both scenes rely on movement, music, and silliness, without any words spoken.
Versus is a prolonged fight scene in various locations between AMBËHR (Irena Ponizova) and Adrianne Voxxman (Katherine Semchuck). Imagine early Youtube videos, where a staged play fight would generate views. That’s all it is, but there’s something inherently funny to me about the absurd length of the scene.
It makes absolutely no sense and that’s why it works. Versus has complete faith in its absurdity. I loved it.
A Dramatic Conversation, in turn, is a good example of mixing things up. Set to cool jazz, Jessalina The Ginger Cat (Jessica Germano) and Valda Shmorgington (Eleanor Van Veen) have an intense conversation in a parking lot. Their entire discussion is done as a jerky modern dance. Yellow text subtitles on the screen translate for the audience. It’s catchy, fun, and unique.
These two segments work because they make use of the over-exaggeration from the actors. It’s the curse of theatre on film, but those large expressions for a live venue translate differently on camera. It’s here they capitalize on that difference.
I wish there’d been more sections like those. The other scenes fell flat for me, and felt dated in their humour.
As a whole, I think Odd Seed doesn’t entirely work because they wanted to do something in the Waiting for Guffman-style but their creative voice didn’t. When they eschewed that framework, it worked.
Odd Seed, at the very least, does have some ideas, they just needed to weed out areas to let them grow.
- Odd Seed is playing on-demand at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.
- Purchase a $5 Membership to access the On-Demand programming on the Fringe website, then Pay What You Can to each show as you go, with the suggested price of $13 per show.
- Memberships can be purchased here. View the virtual on-demand show listings here.
- Accessibility notes:
- On-Demand shows: videos are closed captioned, transcripts are available for all audio content, documents are screen-reader friendly, and all digital images are provided with alternative text descriptions. These access supplements have been generated by the company and reviewed by the Festival. They may vary slightly from company to company.
- Fringe Primetime presentations will feature Auto-Transcribed Captioning.
- Content Warning: adult language
Photo of Irena Ponizova, Katherine Semchuck, Alyson Miller, Miyeko Ferguson, Sonja Boretski, Eleanor Van Veen, Jessica Germano by Kendra Epik