REVIEW: Hard Times @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

Bremner Duthie’s one-man show is set during the depression at a time when vaudeville theatre is being pushed out to make way for cinema. Should you see it?

What I loved about Hard Times was the music and performance. Bremner Duthie has a commanding voice for the old-timey standards-type music he was belting out –which is a style I love- and he’s also an incredible showman in the true vaudevillian sense.

What I didn’t enjoy so much is that, honestly, this is a really depressing show.  The dawn of the cinema means the death of vaudeville and our about-to-be-fired and depressed performer laments being pushed out as the theatre makes way for the cinema. Our performer mopes around for a bit until he decides he’s going to go out with a bang and kill himself. Then was spend the rest of the show with him as he tries and sings and tries and sings, and it’s just a real downer. Don’t get me wrong, there are some laughs along the way, but over all it’s pretty much a downer and the depressing character drowned out any message about the arts that might have been trying to get across in those first few minutes.

I would absolutely pay to see Bremner Duthie play a similar character in an upbeat show if he puts one together, and if he throws some of the music up on iTunes, I’d grab that shit in a heartbeat, but I’d definitely caution anybody who told me they were going to see Hard Times that it’s not exactly going to be an uplifting experience. Hard Times sits with a hard three.

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Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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