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MATTHEW’S REVIEW - Innocent When You Dream @ Ottawa Fringe 2013

Innocent When You Dream was the second one-man Moby Dick show that I saw in a row at Ottawa Fringe. Zeb L. West is front and centre as a young man who calls himself “Ishmael, no wait, Jonah” who is trapped in the belly of a whale with nothing but a few soggy crackers and copies of Don Quixote & Moby Dick. When the audience joins him in the belly we are taken on a series of tales about love found and love lost, with puppets, costumes, elaborate drawings and ukulele solos.

When we join West’s character the play is light and the content keeps the audience chuckling and engaged, but within 10 – 15 minutes the content starts to border on hyperbole. West, in introducing the idea of characters who fall in love hard and never recover from the loss of their love, seems to muddle character transitions and it becomes confusing as to whether these are all one character played as multiple-personalities or whether there are actual multiple characters in the show. The strong starting show seems to slide downhill quickly once we find the once Ishmael, no wait, Jonah, who has now become Don Quixote charging at a white windmill screaming at the top of his lungs.

When Don Quixote becomes Captain Ahab the play rights itself and avoids becoming the shipwreck it was recklessly becoming. The play is unconventional, yes, but it also becomes, in the long run, a witty examination of character, be it an exploration of the character of oneself or the exploration of the characters presented.

Without spoiling the ending Zeb L. West wraps up the play nicely by making everything we’ve just seen over the past 40 minutes relevant to situations of the here and now. He then sings a ukulele solo to end his show, which was by far one of the funniest songs I have heard on a Fringe stage in a long time.

Zeb L. West is also a pro at handling audiences. A few members in our audience talked back to West and he handled it well, turning a jab or a comment into a part of his show, and it played all the better.


If you are interested in checking out Innocent When You Dream you can find the show times at:

About Matthew Champ

Matthew Champ is the lead movie reviewer for Production Ottawa's Should You See It team, making sure that you know whether or not these movies or plays are worth spending your time or money on. He is also on 101.9 Dawg FM every Friday morning at 7:10 AM chatting movies with Dylan Black. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewschamp.


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