By Robert K. Stephen
(TORONTO, ON) – I have suddenly realized I have Briane Nasimok somewhat wrong. You know Briane from the pages of The Square. I used to think of Briane as a comedian, but I am somewhat wrong on that account. Briane’s performance in Confessions of an Operatic Mute was featured at the Toronto Fringe Festival from July 2 to 12.
I had seen his routine live and on DVD a few times previously, so I know the storyline which improves each time I see it. My mistake is that I have thought of Briane primarily as a comedian. It doesn’t help that I know Briane as a friend and neighbour, so I focus on his incessant flow of cutting one liners that leave me a bit dizzy in trying to interpret them.
In person, he reminds me of an older comedian heavily relying on the one liners to produce a laugh. However, when Briane is on stage I realize how wrong I am.
Briane is a great story teller with a comedic slant and edge. He certainly had the crowd enthralled at the George Ignatieff Theatre at the opening night of the Toronto Fringe Festival on July 2. It was not a ribald event but a very personal recounting of his life, laced with sometimes obvious one liners. Yet it was also peppered with sardonic and sarcastic comments not caught onto by the audience.
In other words, Briane has some complexity to his act. A Milton Berle or Jerry Lewis no, but far more a Larry David with his cutting and subtle humour. This is all rather odd considering Briane’s secret passion for Jerry Lewis.
The show is about Briane’s life from childhood to present time, a central theme being his obsessive passion for some women in his life. I’m sorry for the comparisons to Larry David’s obsessions, but Briane has his own.
On occasion, it can be sad, as he describes the death of his father and the ribbing he endured as a result of his birthmark however, with Briane, there is most always the unobtainable woman.
And on we go to Camp Rockwood and Debbie Wagman, a priceless adolescence fantasy.
Crystal Beach and his fascination with Donna the waitress.
Then we go the theme of the show, being his experience with The Canadian Opera Company as an operatic mute, where he seems to believe, or at least convey the message, he was a chronic underachiever. With references to Dr Tyrell, of the Canadian Opera Company, it leads me to believe I am caught up in some part of Blade Runner.
Briane finally hit the big-time at the Opera with eight singing role performances. At that point he realized he could go no further as an extra of the opera he had become The Extra.
All said and done, Briane’s performance is an unique, quirky, personal, must-see. You’ll laugh and smirk for sure, but you will be riveted to his storytelling.