Reviews - Fringe 2008

Fringe Festival Review: Because I Can

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 21, 2008

Written by Allison McWood and directed by James Henderson, Because I Can is a screwball comedy that parlays a simple premise into a lively hour of very funny entertainment.

Karina Berschteyn plays the lovely, innocent Shylie, an archetypal smalltown girl in the city. Referred by her doctor for a plantar wart, Shylie ends up in the care of the deranged, moody podiatrist Dr. Mendax (Randolph J. Johnston), who gives her six months to live.

Mendax roars, grimaces, leers and ogles his way through an energetic (if sometimes overwrought) performance.

He is aided and, indeed, worshiped by his assistant, Nurse Floyd (Douglas Morton), who gets some of the biggest laughs as he struggles to assert his masculinity - to himself as much as to the other characters.

Jeff Ulrich plays Bogdan (Image Credit: Fringe Festival Promotional Photo)
Jeff Ulrich plays Bogdan (Image Credit: Fringe Festival Promotional Photo)

The heart of the play is Bogdan (Jeff Ulrich), the intense, frustrated custodian who keeps miscommunicating with the other characters through piecemeal snatches of phrasebook English and aggravated bursts of fluid Romanian.

This failure owes as much to the others' blithe preconceptions about an immigrant janitor as it does to his own limitations.

With his furrowed brow, stilted movements and world-weary exasperation, Bogdan struggles to reveal the mystery surrounding Dr. Mendax and his office, but he lacks the key to share his discoveries with the others.

The ending will surprise few viewers, but the journey, leavened with excellent timing, laugh-out-loud dialogue, smart physical comedy and some squirmingly uncomfortable exchanges, is definitely worth attending.

Because I Can will play at the Hamilton Fringe Festival until Saturday, August 23.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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