When a show sells out its first performance – and second, which is the one I attended today – you would expect it to be good. After all, if the reputation of the performer based on his previous work is that good, you can reasonably attend with high hopes. Paul Strickland, the genius behind 90 LIES AN HOUR, doesn’t disappoint with this latest installment in the now “four-part trilogy” of his first Fringe show, “Ain’t True and Uncle False.”
Strickland is a master storyteller. His grasp of language is equal to his sense of timing. There are no flaws in his comic presence, with knowing winks when jokes might be a little obvious and hilarious asides when the crowd laughs late. But I think I’m most impressed by his ability to remain sincere and humble despite the heaps of praise he gets for his work. He wins award after award for his innovative shows all over the country (and Canada). There’s a thing that Strickland has, a quality that’s hard to label, in which he can make these stories which have to be well-rehearsed seem spontaneous and off-the-cuff. There’s an “aw shucks-ness” that endears him to us, but these scripts are precise and well-timed and professional (and the use of the guitar for setting the mood is brilliant). His director, Erika Kate MacDonald, an amazing storyteller in her own right, keeps him on track with well-paced and very intelligent choices in lighting and use of the stage.
What I think I like the most about Strickland – and this particular show does it as well as any – is that he doesn’t beat anyone over the head with a “message.” Sure, the stories have morals; all good ones do. But they’re life lessons that aren’t convicting. They’re universally true and apply to us all. You won’t walk away feeling guilty. You’ll just walk away impressed.
90 LIES AN HOUR is NOT TO BE MISSED; tickets will sell fast but it does look like there are still some available. Click here for more information about the show and click here for more information about the Festival.