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August 19, 2011

FringeNYC report: Day 8

by Jesse North
fringenyc fringe festival new york city victor victoria terrifying tale things

Photo: Nicole Piotrkowski

It’s double trouble with Killing Nellie and Victor and Victoria’s Terrifying Tale of Terrifying Things. Each show stars a duo—in Killing Nellie, it’s Mark Storen and Oda Aunan as unhappily-wed folk singers Rupert and Embla; Victor and Victoria stars Nathan Cuckow and Beth Graham as the titular terrified. Though totally unrelated in terms of content, both productions do skew towards the darker end of the spectrum, putting the creep back into show, for audiences who like their theater with a gothic twist.

Killing Nellie, presented by theMOXYcollective at Venue 13, The Bowery Poetry Club, hails from Australia and Norway via the Winnipeg Fringe. Like fellow Aussies Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias who tour as the German mock-rock band Die Roten Punkte, Storen and Aunan perform their show as if it were a concert. First Storen, who cannot find his wife, begins to play his acoustic guitar alone, until Aunan, dressed to the hilt and speaking only in Norwegian, shows up and takes the mic. It becomes quickly apparent that theirs is not a happy union, and with each successive song, their onstage animosity grows to the point where it’s no longer funny—just mean. The real humor consistently lies in the songs, particularly the lullaby sung in Norwegian (a translated lyric of which goes, “I’ll rip out your guts/I’ll tear out your heart”) and a song called “Magee” which details a real or imagined dalliance on Emblar’s part with a man named Magee, and Rupert’s jealous reaction.

In Edmonton-based Kill Your Television’s Victor and Victoria’s Terrifying Tale of Terrible Things (Venue 4, Teatro LETEA) the two featured actors play virtually identical-looking fraternal twins, Victor and Victoria. Their parents are away for the evening and when Victor awakes from a nightmare, it’s up to Victoria to try a cheer him up. The two begin reading a mysterious storybook that has been randomly left in the room, “The Terrifying Tale of Terrible Things,” and acting out the scenes of mutiny, murder, cannibalism, shipwrecks, being buried alive, and other topics that make falling back asleep anytime soon much less probable. Cuckow as Victor and Graham as Victoria are like offshoots of the Addams’ Family tree—pale, Edwardian moppets with matching bangs, huddled in their parent’s bedroom, with high winds and strange creaking sounds (provided by sound designer Terry Fairfield) lending an ever-increasing sense of foreboding to the proceedings. The playful, complementary energies of the two actors keep the show moving forward, even as the characters’ fates seem in doubt. Fun for grown-up fans of Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, or straitjackets

—Nicole Gluckstern

For more of Nicole’s Fringe journey, follow her on Twitter @enkohl!

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