b y Bree Perlman
of Montreal , show review at Fiesta Gardens Thurs night.
“Let’s pretend we don’t exist, let’s pretend we’re in Antarctica”
Pretending to pretend was fundamental to of Montreal’s majestic, production at Fiesta Gardens on Thursday night. Ninjas, Star Wars Gold Men, Pigs were just some of the characters that came out to play for a show that started high and ended higher.
The Prince and David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust comparisons are inevitable. The make up and ambiguous sexuality most notably. I thought of Hedwig’s rock opera on Jane Street, just below the seedy one hour rooms for rent above; Michael Alig and the original Club Kids before they killed Angel. For whatever comparisons, this is Kevin Barnes’ own fantasy world and in it he is king of his own castle, guest of honor at the party, and star of his own death–in a glorious white coffin, of course. You can come if you want to.
As if peering through the keyhole of his adolescent bedroom door, you watch as he tries on his sister’s dresses, applies her make up, throws himself a tea party, and acts out his own suicide, all while putting the words of his adolescent diary to a confectionery concoction of melodies. He doesn’t let on, but he knows you’re watching. He wouldn’t do it if you weren’t. The angst of angry lyrics masked behind sticky and sweet, cotton candy for the ears, is key to any adolescent fantasy world and Barnes beautifully captures its highs and lows. Unrequited love from the “girl that left me bitter,” in She’s a Rejector, with it’s tantrum like title, expresses conflicting desires to “walk up to her and hit her” and external restraint, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” There are those infectious manic moments of falling in love, “I want to make you scream/ I want to braid your hair/ I want to kiss your friends/ I want to make you laugh/ I want to dress the same” and the requisite suicidal thoughts, in which he laments, “Why am I so damaged…I don’t know how long I can hold on/If it’s gonna be like this forever.”
Part of the allure is Barnes’ world portrays a life where there were more hours for daydreaming than doing. A time we can remember from the safety of our now happening lives.
The show has exploded technically since I last saw them. Three screens behind the stage offered a back drop that called to mind the is-this-really-for-kids cartoon Scooby Doo, Where are You? for a multi-tiered stage. The dancers/actors seemed to double as stage hands as one set after another was put together behind a screen. At times chaotic, it was a fantastic, impressive, ambitious display of fearlessness. Fiesta Gardens couldn’t have been a better choice for such a spectacle. You half expected to see all concert goers to be carrying oranges they had purchased at a particular gas station in order to get the piece of paper that would lead them here. However they did manage to get there, everybody seemed to be ecstatic that they did. Kudos to Transmission Entertainment for keeping the Fun alive.