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Fay Slift is exhausted but gracious after starring in her first theatrical vehicle. (Cutie cub Kaleb Robertson attempts to photobomb)
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Next gay theatre not-a-review: The 34th Rhubarb Festival

Art and entertainment collide with a heavy-metal aftermath

02.21.2013

The 34th annual Rhubarb Festivalis -- every bit as chaotic and mesmerizing as the other 33 editions. And the kickoff party was, as usual, one of the best parties of the year.

The performances at Rhubarb are strictly off limits for reviewing. This is to allow the ideas and experiments to grow in front of an audience and just see what happens. Sometimes this pays off and a performance expands and returns as a hit play; sometimes it is a noble failure. What can be promised is that each piece will be provocative and, if it's not to your taste, over within 20 minutes. There are no guarantees with Rhubarb, but at least once an evening, probably several times, you will laugh, gasp and find an idea lodged in your head.

Each night of the festival there are at least six performances and a few art installations or events at Buddies itself, as well as events happening throughout the city in public spaces. Unfortunately, we can't tell you about the three pieces we saw -- Winnipeg cowboys Coral Maloney and Ian Mozdzen, who did unspeakable things with baked beans; the irrepressible Fay Slift tangling with three bears (Trixie & Beaver and Kaleb Robertson) in a Dr Seuss setting; and the heartbreakingly sexy Ill Nana dance troupe -- but they are all worth checking out. The other three simultaneous performances are, judging by word of mouth, just as intriguing.

I think we're allowed to state that the rockers Vag Halen, who played the afterparty, attended by art/theatre celebs of all stripes, tore up the stage and turned the dancefloor into a seething mass of delighted headbangers. "Welcome to the Jungle" indeed.

The 34th Rhubarb Festival runs until Sun, March 3 at Buddies, 12 Alexander St.

photos by Raul Da Silva

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