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Review: THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION at Balustrade Monument-National

An absurdist appeal to the good times at the Montreal Fringe Fest.

Review: THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION at Balustrade Monument-National

"Third nipple?" asked the Fringe Festival volunteer.

"Yes," I sighed, through my mask. I had never answered in the affirmative to those words before. "I'm late. I'm sorry."

Dashing up the stairs of the Monument-National, my new acquaintance informed me I was only about three minutes late-a huge improvement, for me, who has been running a consistent 45 minutes late for everything since Montreal started to cautiously creak back open again due to a modest improvement in the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very sorry to playwright and performer Ilana Schecter. This is me trying.

The seats in the Balustrade theatre were sparse, and set the requisite distance apart. Playwright Ilana Schecter greets us as a scientist, and when I arrived was giving us a run-down of the current pandemic restrictions: proper hand washing timelines (the entirety of the "99 bottles of beer on the wall" song), new variants attacking blonde people, and the like.

Our protagonist receives information from an alien civilization-a series of strange and advanced scientific instruments, and paradigm-shifting information in the form of poetry. They must overcome obstacles, solve riddles, and ultimately tap into their inner capacity for Fun in order to emerge victorious. Or, rather, I think that's what happens.

THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION proceeds with absurdist glee-heavily inspired by clowning, it has the air of a children's show for adults. The parts of it that really shine-which include glowing interpretive dance to Pantha Vee's arresting spoken word poetry, a delightful potion-mixing sequence involving a large-nippled baby bottle, the literal glare off of the strange and beautiful costuming-evoke guerrilla theatre, punk and glam rock performances, or pop art Happenings. I found myself longing to see the work in a grungier, or more illegal setting-under a graffiti'd overpass perhaps, or in a condemned building, or in someone's houseplant-crowded loft apartment. It was while fantasizing about watching THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION in some smoky loft apartment or a questionably-zoned DIY performance venue, surrounded by queers and freaks and artists, that it really struck me where I was-and I had to blink back tears at the enormity of the knowledge that I was witnessing my first piece of live theatre since the before-times.

Giddy as I was to be out, in person, witnessing live theatre, with an audience and a performer, in the same room, not a screen in sight-it didn't bother me much that I couldn't follow the plot. Perhaps there was something revealed in the four minutes before I found my seat (I really am so sorry about that)-but I doubt it. I don't think plot is much the point in a work like THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION, but I still can't really re-construct a summary of precisely what happened throughout the half hour run time. The work is also so absurd that I found myself wishing that Ilana Shecter's energy level, which stayed at a solid eight throughout the run time, could be jacked up to an 11 or higher-the show is super weird, and should be, and I feel like the only thing that could make it better is if it was just altogether more weird, overall.

I am grateful to be alive on an Earth that still contains theatre, considering how much we've all lost. THIRD NIPPLE CHAKRA ACTIVATION STATION has two more performances, on June 18th and 19th, as a part of the St Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Tickets are available here.

Additional Fringe coverage and nonfiction writing about fringe festival life and culture is available at Tara's substack SARCASTIC FRINGEHEAD.

Tara's regular newsletter is called THEATRE OF CRUELTY and publishes creative nonfiction and updates about her work and writing for free or a totally optional tip every second Wednesday.

From This Author - Tara McGowan-Ross

Tara McGowan-Ross is an urban Mi’kmaq multidisciplinary artist. She is the author of the poetry collections GIRTH and SCORPION SEASON (both INSOMNIAC PRESS), the host of Montreal's INDIGENOUS... (read more about this author)

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