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Choir members have more exciting lives than you might imagine.

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I would never want to stereotype choir enthusiasts, but singer Betsy Locke is a Type B personality that you almost have to feel sorry for. Over the course of this insane Stewart Lemoine comedy, he’s even told that he’s “a bit of a doormat” when it comes to relationships.

Betsy, single since her college days, is a teacher doomed to be a spinster. Even as a member of the choir, she is always at the service of the harmonies of the ensemble, almost lost in the alto section. Why, after nearly a decade in the vocal ensemble, she’s even being asked to audition again, clearly needs to be rescued.

Well, buckle up, Betsy, because you’re heading to Fever Land.

It turns out that Fever Land is a haphazard euphemism used to describe a supernatural realm, a kind of temporary life assessment station run by the gods that will offer up some exciting experiences for Betsy, after the audition. Note that you are never told exactly what happens during that audition until much later in the play. Getting there is a lot of fun.

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Betsy Locke is irrationally calm or perhaps just naive, played by Jenny McKillop. It’s all set in 1960s Winnipeg, places familiar to the playwright’s childhood. This classic Lemoine script was previously unearthed in 2004 and recently revived under the direction of Belinda Cornish and a new cast.

Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10
Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10 Photo by Marc J Chalifoux /Postmedia

It’s Betsy’s hosts in Fever Land who make the sparks fly.

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Meet Erlking, a mythical elf king from a classic Goethe poem, and his colleague Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, a mythical and terrifying character stolen from the ballet Giselle (research reveals this is where the phrase “put me hairs on end “of). If characters drawn from European literature or fairy tales sound a bit esoteric, know that those strange contrasts are the source of frequent laughs at this show.

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The king and queen also get the best costumes, bright red suits and capes with headdresses to die for, courtesy of designer Leona Brausen. Myrtha’s gaze leans toward something Wagnerian. In one scene, there’s even a famous dessert to match her outfits, and Lemoine hasn’t forgotten about other Winnipeg kitchen staples.

Erlking and Myrtha use their supernatural powers to decide who will see and hear them, in fact everything they see and hear, a point made clear by rapid lighting changes on the spare stage covering multiple locations in the story.

The catalysts for Betsy’s journey are husband and wife Clark and Diane Tupper, choir teacher and administrator, respectively. It’s the frustrated, needy, and repentant Clark (Garett Ross) who seeks comfort and something else from Betsy, as his overbearing wife seems destined to drive him crazy.

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Diane is a terminal type A organizer and a busybody who lets everyone know how things should be. April Banigan is excellent at portraying the simplistic, making Diane uncomfortable, rarely stopping to let others do the talking, using the real “we”, always in command.

Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10
Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10 Photo by Marc J. Chalifoux /Postmedia

After meeting this couple at the audition, Erlking walks in to guide Betsy to Fever Land, presented as a series of important paintings or scenes from her life. First Clark meets her in the park, then, delightfully, for a magical moment in the monkey house at the zoo. The relative banality of their lives only amplifies the matter, in the face of a reality in which Erlking and Myrtha run the show.

Andrew MacDonald-Smith is an absolute delight as The Erlking, moving like some kind of insane Fred Astaire with a decided penchant for angular poses. Cathy Derkach is unabashedly funny as Queen Myrtha, who enjoys a good steak when she doesn’t show Betsy the ways of revenge. Both characters exert a showbiz energy more akin to a Broadway musical.

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The juxtaposition of settings like the monkey house, the motor inn, and the strange atmosphere of these mythical beings with all their quirks are the kind of Lemoine trademarks that make Fever Land hilarious at times, all the way ( in the monkey, the house, of course). where Betsy tries to get revenge. It’s a hoot to find such imaginative details in a relatively short one-act play.

Sounds are an obvious aid to storytelling, and dreamy chorus music appears here and there. My only complaint is that the monkey chorus doesn’t sound like monkeys anymore, however that might sound (wouldn’t an elf king know how to make that work?)

Be prepared for an emotional and satisfying ending, and rest assured that Betsy will find the right notes in the harmonious landscape.

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Check

Land of fever

Writer Steward lemoine

director Belinda Cornish

Where La Quindicina Theater at the Varscona Theater

When Until October 10

Tickets From $ 25 from theater.com

Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10
Scene from Fever Land, a play by Stewart Lemoine for La Teatro La Quindicina at the Varscona Theater until October 10 Photo by Marc J Chalifoux /Postmedia

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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