The Ballad of Frank Allen plays at the West End Cultural Centre (WECC) every evening through Fringe Fest (July 22-30). It was written by Shane Adamczak who acts in it along with Al Lafrance.
Adamczak is an “Aussie” actor and veteran of the fringe circuit who has won lots of acclaim for his many plays and improv skills, including a “Just for Laughs” Award at the Montreal Fringe Fest this year.
He handed me a playbill while I was looking at the list of plays posted on the main fringe board. We started talking about the large numbers of Australians who travel the fringe circuit and I decided on a whim to see his play.
Now, it’s described in the Fringe program as a sci-fi buddy comedy about a man living in another man’s beard so I wasn’t too sure…but the Fringe is where you take chances and see outrageously titled (or subtitled) shows because you just never know and I’m glad I saw this show.
It opened interestingly with him sweeping the hall and then carrying on with the cleaning theme on stage.
Throughout the play, the two actors used physical theatre to great effect. When combined with a sci-fi sound track recorded in Australia, it marked transitions in the play. The really dangerous oh no! parts in the scientific experiment plot line were also accompanied by that universal danger sound (you know the one) and red flashing lights.
I liked the poignancy of the funny tales about the developing romance between Al, a 20 something slacker who works as an order taker at “Cheezy Meatz”and his girlfriend Heather.
Although it’s just the two guys on stage, the romance is really brought to life by Lafrance’s storytelling skills. Adamczak’s asides as the little man in the beard add even more. There’s a long bawdy ballad sung about her accompanied by Adamczak.
It couldn’t have been an easy play to pull off. This production required a lot from its actors. They belted out ridiculously funny songs tunefully. They successfully carried two zany plot lines throughout the play skillfully.
It turns out that this play about a janitor who was shrunk and ended up living in a strangers beard was a great Fringe pick as I’m still thinking about the show today.
It was an interesting, fast paced and well produced play. Put your disbelief aside and go and see this, if only to marvel at how such a silly plot line can come to life. You’ll be in stitches like most of the audience tonight.
The play isn’t suitable for kids under 15 due to coarse language.
Venue #25 – WECC – ACU Hall
July 24 7:00 p.m.
July 25 5:45 p.m.
July 26 7:15 p.m.
July 27 9:00 p.m.
July 28 5:45 p.m.
July 29 8:30 p.m.
July 30 6:15 p.m.