FRINGE: 3 shows with nudity

Lucid Interval Fringe Edmonton GigCityDropping your pants is a sure-fire way to pack a Fringe house. Performances flagged with the “nudity” warning in the program usually have pretty decent crowds, because let’s face it: we’re all a bunch of perverts.

However, while the idea of seeing a live naked person on stage is titillating, it’s not something to be undertaken lightly. This isn’t like watching naked people on TV. Having a person standing a few feet away from you, who can see you seeing them naked, and who can (and often, will) respond directly to you, is actually quite confronting. Downright alarming, in some cases. While some nude performances play up the nakedness for laughs, more often than not the nudity plays a trickier role in plays. The following shows aren’t for those just looking for a cheap thrill and a few good laughs at the expense of some genital jokes – check out Rear Entry or Shirley Gnome if that’s what you’re after, or one of the festival’s many burlesque shows.

***

Lucid Interval (Venue 3)

4 out of 5

I suspect more than a few people were left feeling distraught after attending this show in the hopes of seeing some skin, as they were instead confronted with a truly wrenching, disquietingly personal rollercoaster of a performance.

Tina Hofman (above) is an absolutely arresting performer, presenting a style of choreography that’s quite different from the usual sort you tend to see around Edmonton. Confining herself to remaining within the borders of a few square feet of fabric throughout the duration of the show, Hofman weaves physical theatre with photographic montage in a narrative that attempts to give her some sense of closure over the sudden loss of her husband in a freak accident. The play ebbs and flows, ultimately building to a tense crescendo through the use of dissonant soundscapes alongside Hofman’s frenzied movements.

Yes, there’s a bit of nudity—Hofman wears a loosely-buttoned men’s dress shirt and a pair of panties—but it’s a perfect example of nudity being employed to really strike home the impact of physical theatre. And so, those of you who went in the hopes of seeing a sexy naked lady: I hope you took something deeper from the show than your disappointment.

***

Nerdfucker (Venue 9)

4 out of 5

Nerdfucker Fringe GigCity EdmontonShe wanders in from offstage with a towel wrapped around her waist and a chessboard painted on her back, talks into her phone for a few seconds before noticing the crowd watching her. She freezes like a deer in headlights before rushing off stage. There: you’re only 30 seconds into a Fringe show, and you’ve seen already seen some nudity! What follows is far more than just more skin, however: it’s a lovely, touching foray into the mind and heart of a woman who has been exploited and abused by those seeking to profit from her flesh.

Performer Cameryn Moore quickly transforms this awkward encounter into a lovely, funny performance about nerds and nerd culture, and the ways in which women fit in – and much more tellingly, don’t fit in – to that culture. She appears nervous at first, stammering out apologies to the audience in between frantic phone calls to see when her fellow performers are going to arrive, but it’s clear that Moore’s in full control the whole time, playing on our sympathies for the person who’s laying her heart so bare to a room full of strangers. She’s also got perfect comedic timing and a knack for casually dropping hilarious one-liners. Nerdfucker is all about skin, in every sense of the word, and it does justice to a show that easily claims the crown for most commanding title at this year’s Fringe.

***

How Does That Make You Feel? Tales of Sex, Life and Lies (BYOV 34)

1 out of 5

While the premise behind this show – to depict the inner turmoil and competing points of view behind three dysfunctional couples – is admirable, the execution is not. With a hackneyed script that plays on a host of wincingly regressive gender stereotypes and sitcom-deep characters, this is a tedious hour of theatre. It’s bogged down even further by clunky scene transitions caused by unnecessary props. Even the promise of bolstering the audience’s spirits with the sight of some flesh is quickly dashed, and the tiny bit of PG-13 nudity that comes at the very end of the show is too little, too late. Indeed, after seeing this show, its nudity warning is obviously a transparent attempt to attract a bigger house. Sex sells, sure – but this show turns around and robs the audience of the one thing that might have made the experience more tolerable.

Then again, maybe it’s best that the pants stayed on until the end. Bad shows are one thing, but bad sex shows are quite another.

One Response to FRINGE: 3 shows with nudity

  1. Rae

    August 16, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    It is possible the nudity warnings (in spite of how brief said nudity is) are not there to sell tickets but to warn anyone who may be offended by nudity? To project that assumption is shallow and juvenile on the part of a professional reviewer.

    There are actually guidelines people must follow when advertising their shows that include an actual naked person on stage.

    Just some food for thought. :)