Upfront Reviews – The Bomb-itty of Errors

Upfront Reviews – The Bomb-itty of Errors

by Cameron Brtnik

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All the world’s a Bomb-itty of Errors
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man (or woman) in his time plays many parts…
 
     And in The Bomb-itty of Errors, the actors sure play many parts! A show filled with ill rhymes, sick flows, dope beats and Shakespearean slang is sure to amuse Shakespeare fans and hip hop heads alike! The play originating in New York, and adapted here by Brook Hall, is currently being showcased Nov. 18-Dec. 4 at The LAB Space in Taipei (by Qilian station on the red line) as part of his Butterfly Effect Theatre Company. “When I saw The Bomb-itty of Errors for the first time in NYC in the year 2000, I immediately put it on my bucket list for must-do shows.” If you’ve witnessed any of their past stage productions – God of Carnage, Ives’ Shorts, Tuesdays With Morrie – you know you’re getting top-notch entertainment, and high value for your money (700 NT). Living in Taipei, our dramatic arts and alternative entertainment choices are few; this is the best ticket money can buy. Coming from Toronto – a city highly praised for its arts and entertainment – one can appreciate what Brook is doing, raising Taiwan’s arts culture to world standards.
 
      Starring Airy Liu as Dromio, the feisty, ill lyric-spitting identical twin of Dromio, Meg Anderson as Antipholus of Ephesus (try saying that three times fast) and other comical characters – notably as the hilarious bumbling “emcee wannabe” postal boy, Steve Coetzee as Antipholous of Syracuse, and the memorable Hendelberg, a rhyme-dropping rabbi, the prolific Charlie Storrar as Dromio of Ephesus, and the hysterical Luciana, Adrianna’s sister (the initially confusing plot becomes more apparent as the story emerges), and last but definitely not least, DJ Cross Cutz dropping the beats and spinning the turntables throughout this lively, fun, and frantic farce. With such a limited cast playing such a vast array of characters, you’re sure to see characters do quick-changes that would impress Clark Kent, wigs flying off mid-performance, comical voice changes, all immersed in impressive emceeing that will leave your head spinning. When asked if it was difficult to memorize the lyrics, Charlie Storrar replied, “When I first read the script, it looked intimidating – very different to lines I’d had to learn in the past. But in the end the fact that the words are generally rhyming couplets made it like learning song lyrics, even the spoken parts. Being able to listen to the soundtrack on repeat also helped get the words into my head. I was off book in about a month.”
 
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     I first witnessed The Comedy of Errors at a “Shakespeare in the Park” event held in my hometown of Toronto two summers ago. As only a perfunctory fan of Shakespeare – I hadn’t read any of this plays since high school – it resparked my interest in the bard and especially live performance of Shakespeare’s plays (and helped me greatly in following the plot more sensibly this time around). So if you have 700 NT in your wallet (about $20 Canadian) and you have your heart set on spending it on the next X-Men movie, do yourself a favor and emerge yourself in the cultured forum of performance art. You’ll have an amazing time, meet like-minded people, and be smarter for it. With teeth, with eyes, with taste, with everything.
 
 
 
For your very own “Upfront Review” just send me a message on WordPress or via Instagram @instacam81
 
Cameron Brtnik is a freelance writer, reviewer, blogger and revived Shakespeare fan

Upfront Reviews: April 2 is International Pillow Fight Day!

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Upfront Reviews – April 2 is International Pillow Fight Day!

written by Cameron Brtnik For Taipei Trends

    WHAT DO feathers, linen, and all-out-war have in common? Pillow fights of course!!! And yesterday, media entertainment group Taipei Trends proved that wars don’t have to be bloody but rather benevolent, and fought with feathers rather than bullets…This was “history in the waking.”

    On this warm April day in Taipei, about 500 warriors, spectators, and curious onlookers gathered in the improvised arena on the grounds of Taipei’s historical Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a national landmark and tourist attraction in Taiwan. There were attendees of all ages (even some brave kids!) and nationalities, making this a monumental event that brought together the diverse melting pot that is Taipei’s multicultural charm.

Gladiators donned their fluffiest weapons: pillows of all shapes, sizes, and colors stuffed with the most comfortable of fabrics from foam to feathers, fleece, fluff and faux-furs. Hundreds waited in anticipation, hungry for the taste of fowl, and the chance to pummel their opponents into a feathery pulp. At the sound of “Go!”, chaos erupted as hundreds of what looked like escaped insane asylum patients raced towards each other in some sort of narcoleptic nightmare; thousands of birds flocking towards each other on a collision course. It was “every man for himself”, and even women and children weren’t safe….

In the end, there were no casualties, except for the remains of some massacred cushions… As for me, my futile weapon met its end committing pillow-cide as it exploded upon some unsuspecting victim’s noodle. The remainder of my time spent gathering the innards of a once-cushiony sack of cotton…a tragic end, but it must know it gave its life for a higher cause, say then a comfortable night’s sleep: It contributed to bringing hundreds of strangers together on a warm, spring day in Taipei. And, in “wake” of the “Battle of Bed-lam,” for those brave warriors who are still standing, if you are feeling “down” and need a “doze off shut-eye,” “rest assured” you can get some well-deserved sleep tonight – Sweet dreams.

See photos from the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/624185041062561/

Apple Daily News: http://m.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/life/20160402/830526/

Follow Taipei Trends on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaipeiTrends/

Cameron is a freelance writer living in Taipei, Taiwan cbrtnik.com

***For your very own “UpFront Review” just send me an email at cbrtnik@gmail.com or pm on Instagram @instacam81

Travelogue: Penghu – Taiwan’s Beautiful and Boring Island

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Penghu

Taiwan’s Beautiful and Boring Island

by Cameron Brtnik

Penghu, September 8, 2014 – My thirty-third birthday. I’m currently sitting seaside at a port in a small city on a tiny island off the coast of Taiwan, enjoying a glass of “The distinctive flavor lager beer,” also known as Taiwan Beer, and gorging on delicious freshly caught oysters and imported salmon. I feel at peace.

    I needed a vacation – Not from work overload, but because in the three years I’ve been living in Taiwan, I’ve never left the island (except for my trip back home to Canada). So I decided to take a trip, alone, to a pretty neighboring island to the west of Taiwan called Penghu (actually a cluster of islets). Warning: This is a couples’ trip, so only go alone if you want to experience cabin fever…without the cabin. Albeit a beautiful island, there’s not much to do besides visit the gorgeous local beaches – I suppose everything’s “local” in Penghu – to surf, dive, or (like me) finally get through that worn paperback you’ve been schlepping around everywhere. And that’s about it. “No matter, I’ll meet people!” I thought. Unfortunately, I came to this isle toward the end of the Moon Festival holiday when people were already returning home. Oh, not to mention the plane crash that killed 48 people (including two foreign exchange students from France) just two weeks prior to my arrival. That never helps an already flailing tourism industry.

    Undeterred (I had caught wind of this news the night before, but I was drunk enough at the time that I accepted my destined, likely watery fate), I took the first flight out of Taipei – which, by the way, I caught the same night of my birthday celebrations, or should I say following morning after leaving Halo, the club we were partying at, bottle service in tow – still inebriated, but somehow functional. I had smartly packed that evening and took my luggage straight to the nightclub. The plane ride was short, just an hour, and I felt safe (which I can’t say for those unfortunate souls who got caught in the typhoon), perhaps because I was passed out the whole way.

    I arrived at the small airport, where I passed out for another three hours on the uncomfortable, yet somehow comfortable seats. When I awoke it was only 10:30am, and I asked about cheap hostels. Soon a van arrived to escort me, and a lovely girl named Julia, whose family owned a local hostel called “Big Fish House,” drove me straight there. It was a very cute inn, more of a Bed and Breakfast, and wasn’t very cheap – $1500nt for the night. But it was well worth the stay, with a bright, spacious room to myself, breakfast, and a scooter (for an extra $300nt) included. I spent the next two hours sleeping (still working off that hangover, or tequila, or both) then hopped on my scooter and hit Shanshui aka “Mountain Water Beach.”

    The first thing I noticed along the way was that sea smell; the salty air hitting your nostrils like it was the first fresh breath of air you’ve taken in years. I was told there’d be “lots of foreigners there.” I was optimistic, as I wanted to meet some new friends to share my adventure with. There was one – he and his Taiwanese girlfriend – and he didn’t look the sort I was interested in meeting (or vice versa). So I kept to myself and got into my book – Freakonomics, a former yet still-popular bestseller I always intended to read, but never got around to till I found myself on a lonely island.

    At dusk, I jumped on my scooter and headed into town; if I were to find any action, it would be in the heart and centre of Penghu! I was wrong. I found one bar that I recognized from the Taiwan Lonely Planet called Freud. It was modelled after a fishing boat, with the same charm and décor as any Canadian seafood tavern, but it was missing that one asset I was looking for: people. I ate the mediocre “Thai-style shrimp” and enjoyed the choice Heineken beer. The mood was dark and depressing, so I left soon before it “got busy.” I went back to my commodious, Japanese-style room, and passed out for the fourth time that day..

    I woke up too late for breakfast, but it was still available: dried up bread loaf and two choices of spread: Nutella and peanut butter. If you know me, you know I enjoyed the shit out of it, more so because it was included (although not served in a bed). Julia, the friendly hotel manager – she and her mother manage two locations of Big Fish House, and she plans to leave in three weeks to study English in Australia for six months – drove me in her Big Fish van to the north end of the island to catch a ferry to a smaller islet fifteen minutes away. Exotically called Chikan (or “chicken island” as I preferred to call it), it’s a little paradise get-away, punctuated by stone weirs – oddly-shaped stone walls in the water originally built as fish traps – and small beaches. I visited Aimen Beach, famous for its jet skiing and banana boating. I did neither, and instead collected coral fragments that had washed ashore, and that’s what the sand was mostly composed of. A nice way to spend the day, but I was sunburnt and happy to catch the last boat back to “civilization.”

    Walking along the beach I noticed one thing: I love long walks on the beach (not a cheesy dating site description). This goes back to my cottage days of walking the shore of Georgian Bay all the way to Balm Beach, over an hour’s walk, and feeling happy as a sand boy (an expression my mother often used, but I never understood. I had to look up the etymology and discovered sand boys were actually “men who drove donkeys selling sand,” and were reportedly always happy). I also noticed something else: I felt utterly alone. It wasn’t a good feeling. I realized right there and then that life is better with friends, or family, or a significant other. That feeling faded though as I thought about how lucky I was, and started plotting world domination.

    I took the ferry back across the straight, caught a cab back into town, and checked into a shitty cheap hotel. I put a generous helping of aloe on that inexorable “Brtnik Burn,” grabbed my laptop, and headed down to the port where I’m currently sitting, two tall beers in, writing this diary entry. It’s my birthday, and I’m surrounded by drunken fishermen and the feeling of loneliness. I think I’ll try and bump my return ticket to tomorrow, as another day on this beautiful and boring island may make Jack a dull boy. As of right now, I feel content, but I wish my friends were here… My friends from Taiwan. My friends from China. My friends from Toronto. My brother and sister. A stranger. But all is well, and let’s all feel lucky we’re alive and not on a plane destined for doom (God bless their souls). I’ll see everyone soon. Oh, and happy Moon Festival!

-Written by Cameron Brtnik, September 8, 2014 on his 33rd birthday

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Cameron is a freelance writer living in Taiwan and part-time explorer cbrtnik.com