Skipping Stones Theatre’s “Life of Len” at the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe Festival

The Windsor-Walkerville Fringe provided another afternoon of exceptional theatre with Life of Len produced by Skipping Stones Theatre. This one man show starring Eric Branget follows Len through several of the highlights in his life. Most of these memories focus on his relationship with his brother, Jimmy, and how things change with each life event.

Branget plays Len from childhood to old age, and watching the transformations happen instantaneously was impressive in its seamlessness. From a young Len, obsessed with space travel and Flash Gordon, to an elderly man who can’t find anything (it may be lost in the 90’s) Branget adeptly navigates all of these situations and everything in between. We get to fully understand Len, and where some of his trouble-maker nature comes from (he didn’t mean to break the radio the second time, he swears), but also the great deal of hero worship he has for his brother, and how that translates to the choices he makes throughout his life.

One of the most ingenious elements to the play was how the other characters were represented on stage. Instead of talking to blank spaces and imaginary people, Branget uses household items to bring the other characters to life: Jimmy is a coatrack, Peter (Len’s son) an umbrella, and Pearl (Len’s wife) a lamp. Not only did these objects become something for Branget to play off of, they also provided opportunity for a great deal of comedy and were an unexpected but entertaining accent to the performance.

A personal favourite, and one of the more poignant memories, of the play was when Len decided to go and fight in World War Two. What’s normally depicted in such serious manner is made light as Len complains about his chores with his battalion and has shreds of maps all over his barracks. Yet in this levity we hear some of his most touching remarks about his brother; his presence in Len’s mind all too fresh and frequent despite the distance and trying circumstances. It was a beautiful moment, and really struck a chord for me.

The play ends with this beautiful playing with the phrase Please Play Again, the roll-up-the-rim result no one wants, but is a moving reminder of just how short life is and how the ones we love will always be there for us, one way or another.

There are only a few more chances to catch this awesome piece at the Olde Walkerville Theatre! July 28 at 1:15, and July 30 at 1. Don’t miss it!!

Drawing Board Production’s “Bedwetter” at the Windsor-Walkerville Fringe

Drawing Board Production’s latest creation, Bedwetter, depicts the real life trials and victories of Tamlynn Bryson, the co-creator and story-teller. Directed and co-created by Kyle Kimmerly, Bryson reflects on her childhood from ages seven to fifteen and what it feels like to have “accidents” even when entering into young womanhood.

What I loved the most about the piece was its breathtaking honesty. I can’t imagine what it must be like to talk about a difficult part of your past so openly with groups full of strangers every day. But Bryson fearlessly shares her story, and knowing that every element and emotion expressed in the play is true gives a gravity to the levity she’s able to make of the situation now. 

Part of that levity comes from the ability with which Bryson is able to switch from one character to another in her story. Her changes in physicality and voice that accompany each new personality create her world for us while showcasing the immense talent of the actress. Even Kimmerly gets in on the action, doing Goofy-cartoon style voiceover instructions for some of Bryson’s more trying sleepovers.


The pop culture references which were included in the show were very powerful; they showcase not only what is put out in the media about bedwetters, but also how inundated we are with those references and therefore what we’re supposed to think about them. The majority of them came from comedy shows, where the bedwetter was always the butt of the joke. It was especially impactful to hear them drown out Bryson’s own positive voice: a perfect example of how negative media affects us, no matter how loud we think that positive voice is. 

 And these perceptions changed so drastically over time for Bryson as well, going from being open and honest about her situation to hiding it from virtually everyone in her life. It was difficult to watch as her self-esteem is broken down little by little by characters she’s playing herself. But it so accurately depicted what it’s like being a teen who’s maybe a little outside of “normal” that everyone is able to connect to her story. 

You need to check out this hysterically self-referencial, moving, and engaging show at the Olde Walkerville Theatre July 26th at 1:15pm, July 27th at 7pm, July 28th at 5pm and July 29 at 3:45.

Photography: Corey Palmer

Photo Editing: Larissa Nodwell 

Stratford Festival’s “Bunny”

I was fortunate enough to attend the first preview of Bunny back on July 29th. It’s absolutely exhilarating to know that you’re in the first performance of a show, especially when it’s a brand new Canadian play. Bunny is a fascinating story which is masterfully told by the Stratford Cast.

The piece is narrated by Sorrel, played by Maeve Beatty, as she goes through some of the most pivotal points in her life thus far. We watch as Sorrel goes from being painfully shy and unliked, so desirable (albeit still rather shy); the way her awkwardness was captured and expressed was so beautifully real, I absolutely loved it. It was incredible to watch her begin to own her womanhood in a deeply sexual way which is usually shied away from on stage.

Once she gets to college, she meets Maggie, who calls Sorrel “bunny” because she’s always nervous “like a rabbit.” Maggie becomes Sorrel’s lifelong friend, and as their bond strengthens and their lives intertwine more and more, we see the kinds of true connections Sorrel becomes capeable of.

The cast is small but mighty, helmed by Beatty and Krystin Pellerin, with amazing performances by Tim Campbell, Cryus Lane, David Patrick Flemming, Jessica B Hill and Emilio Vieira.

One of the aspects I loved the most was how Sorrel was rarely (if ever) off stage. She transformed physically before our eyes, always in a blue dress with some form of brown shoes and accessories. She was aided in these transformations by the other characters, giving us a glimpse at their relationship usually encore we’re ever introduced to them. The set was also simple, but had many moving parts which where also operated by the actors; it was the perfect embodiment of how others shape our lives.

Maggie’s character really touched my heart, for many reasons, but mostly I think because I saw much more of myself in her than I did in Sorrel. But with my Mother being a Breast Cancer Survivor as well, the play really hit home. It was written so beautifully and with so much truth about our society, I look forward to seeing it staged and restaged for years to come.

Bunny only runs until September 24th, so get your tickets before this amazing and moving production is gone!!

Drawing Board Production’s “Working Title: Undecided”

There are few things more exhilarating than getting to see a world première of a play. What can only make the experience better is when you have the absolute honour of knowing the artists involved in such a marvellous creation. Working Title: Undecided was presented at the University of Windsor at the inaugural UWillDiscover Research Conference (they won 2nd place in the performance category), as well as in the Jackman Centre for the Dramatic Arts on March 29th. Never fear! There are still a few more chances to catch this fantastic show!

One person shows should be a category of theatre unto themselves given their extraordinary nature. It is no easy feat to control a room on your own for over an hour, yet Working Title: Undecided’s star Tamlynn Bryson did just that. She was enchanting and amusing, letting us all into the mind of Tess, a woman with a very big decision on her hands. The way she was able to involve the audience in so many ways was wonderful, fun, and impressive, and will continue to work well for their future performances. Tamlynn was able to take the audience on a trip through all of the varying emotions facing Tess in a way that made the audience invested in the outcome of her decision while also having their own hopes for what her answer will be. Tess became very charming, and as an audience member I started to care about the conclusion of the play and what she was going to do because you really felt like you got to know her personally over the course of the play. This, of course, is also not easy to do, but by the reactions of the other audience members at the end of the play, they were similarly affected. Having the ability to not only connect to one’s audience but also to keep them fully engaged for such a long time is, to me, the sign of a well-seasoned actress, and I’m sure that Tamlynn is going to have a bright future in the theatre.

Tamlynn’s partner in crime for this piece was Kyle Kimmerly, who helped to not only direct the play, but also wrote it with her. The topic for the play (which I shan’t reveal, it would give too much away) is a fun one, and one that any audience member can relate to in some way. But then to hear about what a collaborative process it was and continues to be, and the amount of improvisation that is involved (because of the audience involvement) makes it all the more of an amazing feat. Kyle’s direction allowed for that collaborative process to have this beautiful outcome, and really tell Tess’ story in this fun, original way. For two young actors, who are just on the cusp of their careers to create something this impressive and this entertaining is truly awesome. When the play finished, I was blown away to think that I know the two brilliant minds behind this work. The creativity and style of both of these fine artists permeated the work and made it a true pleasure to watch.

I honestly cannot urge you enough to get out and see this wonderful new Canadian play for yourself! They will be showing the play at the Old Walkerville Theatre in May and in June at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Please get out and see this award winning show and support some wonderful local actors!