REVIEW: The Final Balloon @ The Annoyance Theatre

An equal mix of laughter and perplexity

The Final Balloon

I’m ashamed to say this was my first time to Mick Napier’s The Annoyance Theatre, but I am pleased to have finally had the experience. The Annoyance is known for it’s slightly off-kilter alternative shows. Always pushing the norm, exploring new boundaries and leaving plenty of room for questions. I saw The Final Balloon a little over a week ago and if you went solely off the guy sitting behind me, this show was a riot. I on the other hand was an equal mix of laughter and perplexity.

This show was originally put up and directed in 1991 by Mick Napier under the title “Your Butt.” The show takes place in “Maggie’s Bar,” Maggie, played by the lovely, talented and appropriately raunchy Irene Marquette. This avant garde show opens with a series of proclaimed “HA’s” and “Yum Yum’s” which left me wondering where and how this would relate to anything having to do with balloons. However, that was quickly answered as soon as Balloon Boy, played by Connor Tillman, entered the back of the theatre holding one solitary balloon singing in a very creepy, eerie, high-pitched tune.

As the story unfolds, the cast reveals that Balloon Boy is somehow related to a terrible incident that occurred 10 years ago to that day. He is fairly quiet, yet aggressive and enters on stage each time holding balloons he hands out one by one to the cast. These balloons seem to signify death to a certain extent as each cast member fears receiving one.

Throughout the story, more details are revealed about each character in mini spotlights. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s (Irene Marquette), “More Money” serenade filled with explicit and filthy sexual references and a plethora of thrusting topped off with cheap beer poured down her shirt and straight into her pants.

I would like to have done without the dogfight between Nelson (Kyle Dolan) and Teddy’s (Jimmy Pennington) mutts ending in a bloody stuffed animal death on stage. Not only did I feel uncomfortable witnessing this, but I also felt it was unnecessary and did not further the show. Aside from that, my other main critique would be the cartoonish facial expressions of the foreigner, Gern (played by understudy), which felt forced and insincere. However, if the character was intended to be over-embellished then he nailed it.

With 10 characters on stage, it was easy to identify my two favorites – Annette (Jo Scott) and Randy (Kellen Terrett). Annette played the local “bad girl” in an aggressive relationship with the barkeep (Lee Russell). Scott’s grounded truth and commitment to her character was a great anchor in this abstract and lofty production and was much appreciated. Randy on the other hand, is introduced as a seemingly mentally challenged, but kind-hearted man in what I assumed to be his late 20s to mid 30s. His amusement and naivety was a joy to watch throughout this melodramatic dark comedy. However, my favorite scene was the heart-felt conversation between Randy and Annette about change and being who they wanted to be. The conversation switched between Annette sharing heart-felt hopes of her aspirations and Randy breaking into song about his crude sexual fantasies of what he wished he could do to her. It was a brilliant, fun and unexpected twist to his character.

As with any artistic production, everyone has his or her own opinions. For me, not finding out about the terrible incident until the last 15 minutes of the show felt a bit like a dragged out storyline, but there were other elements that I felt helped support the show. The cast was flooded with talent, there’s no questioning that. I thought the creative use of lights and music were instrumentally supportive (pun intended). There were also a number of themes one could pull from this production including misconceptions, rumors and the capability of personal change, so it was nice to have big picture concepts to reflect upon. Overall, was this my favorite production? Probably not, but I do feel that it was a good introduction to this theatre. And as I said, the guy behind me thought it was a riot, so to each their own. I encourage you to find out for yourself, check out The Annoyance Theatre, this show will be running Saturday nights through the end of February.

Did you like this? Share it:

posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Chatter, Reviews

Comments are closed.