SHOW: Can You Say Saskatchewaaan?
VENUE: Unitarian Centre, College and Angus
SCHEDULE: Monday 5 July 5:15, Tuesday 6 July 7:15
Since the establishment of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1947, fringe theater has been defined as something that is edgy, challenging to the audience, and unconventional. Can You Say Saskatchewan is none of these. And it‘s not any good, either. There are some people who would enjoy having coffee with grumpy old coots at the seniors’ home when the pension cheque comes through, but this one-man show won’t appeal to anyone else, and it’s probably better suited for the Abernethy Dinner Theatre than a fringe festival.
The author, Vincent Murphy, wants to compose a love letter to this province, so he fires up the W.O Mitchell Memorial Saskatchewan Cultural Stereotype Spin-O-Meter. Half senile old farts? Check. Long lectures about the etiquette of driving on gravel roads and correction lines? Check. RIDERRRRSSSSS!!!!!? You guessed it. Bathetic testimonials about life in this province, combined with vaguely-defined xenophobia against not only ‘outsiders’ but also anyone not capable of appreciating this life? As if you had to ask. Jokes that made their last appearance in “Laughter, the Best Medicine,” in the October 1965 edition of the Readers’ Digest? You get the idea.
All in all, the play, much like Saskatchewan boosterism during much of the last half of the 20th century, involved feeling smug, without clearly articulating what you had — if anything — to be smug about.
About eight years ago, I had to get an impacted wisdom tooth removed, and in my naivety, I elected to have local anesthesia rather than be totally knocked out. That hour-and a half that it took the dental surgeon to remove the tooth was the longest moments of my life. Until I sat through this play.
Well, the author may have a future in fringe festivals. I could see this as a cult hit at the Edmonton, Toronto, or Vancouver Fringe Festivals. But the audience wouldn’t be laughing with the performer. They would think it’s either performance art, or they would be laughing at the performer.