Spartan and Lush and Right
by Dave Ross
Barrel Crank has to be one of the best pieces of small theatre I’ve seen in a long time. A cast of four, a barrel, and a canvas sail as a backdrop are all that is used to tell the story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. Tackling this subject matter, and the oversized glitz (and glamour?) of Niagara Falls on the stage at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Mainspace would be a challenge, but this production from Suitcase in Point in St. Catherine’s pulls it off in such a way that it seems utterly ridiculous in the best possible way.
Each and every performer is exceedingly strong. The program doesn’t align performers' names with characters, so only some performers can be credited with their roles (through process of elimination). The emcee is perfect, delivering her lines with a vaudevillian twist that mixes perfectly the story of Annie, “not the brightest flower in the garden” with a style of delivery that leaves you imagining her twirling a handlebar mustache, had she one to twirl. The portrayal of Annie, a stout 62-year-old woman who decides to be the first person over the falls is excellent, and while her character could easily come across as flat or one-dimensional, that is somehow avoided here. The two supporting cast members, Trent Pardy and Muoi Nene shine, as each of them take on several roles. Pardy deserves special mention—other than wardrobe, there is absolutely no bleed amongst his various characters, even when he has to switch in a matter of seconds.
Barrel Crank is at SummerWorks