A couple days ago, I went to see my very first Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival show. It was called The Merkin Sisters and I have no idea where to even start.
While my immediate reaction upon being asked to go to the show was “ugh, not some hipster amateur-hour bulls**t,” I took a few minutes to think it over, and decided that it would be something new and different to do. If nothing else it would likely be something vaguely interesting to talk about, if by some chance another human were to engage me in conversation.
Then I learned that it was a comedy show, and I was 100% on board.
Now, comedy is… not an entirely accurate descriptor. There were many laughs during the show, for sure, but it was more like a series of weird performance art pieces that just happened to elicit laughter from the audience. This was a bizzare show, a strange combination of interpretive dance, puppets, giant wigs, and some sort of weird menstruation bit involving a pink sweater and a red scarf. It was like a cross between sketch comedy and a hallucinogenic drug trip.
A show more about physical comedy and just being weird, the actresses (is that the right word?) were weirdly robotic throughout the show, often moving in quick, stilted motions and barking out lines emotionlessly in that weird way that performance artists do on TV. It was somehow even weirder after the show when they dropped their stage personas and acted like regular human beings as they thanked the audience, recommended other shows, and presented their merch.
I think that the nicest way to sum up my feelings about the experience is that I’m not smart enough to have really “gotten it.” It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. I just felt confused and bewildered more than anything. I was acutely aware that I wasn’t laughing as much as the rest of the audience, which makes me a little sad. I wanted to like it more than I did, but what can you do? I’d definitely recommend seeing The Merkin Sisters though, as it is absolutely unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Maybe I didn’t get all the lulz, but I’m still glad that I went.