Montreal Fringe Festival part 2

Today at the Fringe: “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Captain Aurora 2”.

1. Star Trek: Discovery

This was a labour of love, or a love letter to the franchise, and definitely very much “in the spirit of”. There is a clear Star Trek flavour without it being a carbon copy of any series as far as I can tell. This would probably appeal a lot more to Star Trek fans; I’m not one myself, but I still found it quite enjoyable.

The story involves a long-lost planet colony that had been formed by exiled super-soldiers, now suffering from a plague that has decimated the population. Mutual distrust arises from the shared history with the Federation humans: on the one side, there is the memory of the violence wrought on Earth by the colonists’ ancestors, and on the other, there is the memory of subjugation and slavery. We’re dealing here with questions of equal opportunities, privilege, and the extent to which the present generation must pay for the sins of the previous. There are clear parallels drawn with a number of modern social justice concerns: one might say the play functions as an allegory….

Truth to tell, that’s actually one of the elements I associate with Star Trek; or, at least, with science-fiction and fantasy. The introduction of fantastic elements allows the storyteller to look at serious issues through the lens of fiction: get some distance in order to examine the thing in a more objective light.

Aside from that, the story is well-constructed, with different characters espousing different ideals, approaches, and beliefs with regard to the situation. This gives a pretty wide-angle look at the different arguments.

My favourite scene, I think, involves a confrontation between the Vulcan captain and one of the ensigns just as the latter is about to (I think) beam down and play mass shooter with the colony. Each line of dialogue could be lifted from Twitter/Facebook commentary on similar subjects, and there is something satisfying about seeing these things finally answered and addressed.

2. Captain Aurora 2

This is the sequel to a show that played in last year’s Fringe, as I understand it, and which I’d missed. I suspect everyone and their dog already knows that the thing is utterly brilliant, so there’s probably little I could add. It’s fast-paced, snappy action with excellent musical numbers and a fantastic bit of fight choreography that will probably have to be seen multiple times to be properly appreciated. Certain things are probably lost to someone who missed Part 1–I’m a little unclear, for example, as to what Captain Aurora’s powers actually are, for instance. In the end though, you don’t actually know that: you only need to know that she’s capable of taking on the bad guys, and there’s so much fun to be had that you could just tell yourself, “yes, I don’t know what this is, but I like it!

The cast is pretty large, for a Fringe show. I do see how they and their powers were meant to be introduced, but I think one price of the fast-paced action is that it’s pretty easy to miss things. That’s okay, though, since all you need to know is actually pretty easy to glean from the following action even if you missed the original introduction. And the characters are all pretty well-defined in terms of personality and attitude. Considering how much needs to be condensed in order to fit the time constraints, it’s actually pretty impressive that you can walk out later still knowing who’s who and how they fit into story. In that respect, this truly is an ensemble piece.

The standouts for me were Nikki Haggart as Plug and Nadia Verrucci as President Aria. I think they brought some excellent comedic timing to their roles. Buck Delaney as the Phantom was also deliciously flaky.

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