Review: “Fortune Falls” at Alberta Theatre Projects and Catalyst Theatre

Vicki Trask

  • Calgary Critic

“Fortune Falls”. How can I describe “Fortune Falls” presented by Alberta Theatre Projects and Catalyst Theatre? On the surface, I’d call it a grunge Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but I don’t want you to go in with any expectations of chocolate, and hope, and a mysteriously eccentric factory owner with a heavy secret. 

That’s exactly what Fortune Falls is about; but I don’t want you to go in with that in mind. 
When I walked in to the Martha Cohen Theatre on Saturday October 22nd, I instantly compared this show to others that I’ve seen or heard about. The set reminded me of “Urinetown”, the music was like “American Psycho: the Musical” and the story was like “Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Everything was familiar and strangely distinctive. The plot was occasionally hard to follow and the twists were more or less predictable but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and everyone gets bonus points for making the audience jump out of their seats (telling you when the jumpscare comes would ruin my fun). The thing is, I don’t think “Fortune Falls” presented brand new ideas – if there is such a thing anymore – but the way they were performed was engaging and unique. Also, the whole theatre smelt like chocolate for a little while and I really enjoyed the full body emersion. 

So I don’t want you to walk in comparing it to other shows the way I did. I encourage an open mind, as always. And these actors deserve your full attention: they’ve created some contemporary magic on that stage.

Daniel Fong plays Everett Liddelman (sounds like “Littleman”), a young man with big dreams who gets knocked around by circumstance and too much hope. We follow him through his life from dream, to job, to despair, to hope. Daniel brings a child-like wonder to the role which worked so well for the lost and aspiring Everett. 

However, the characters I fell in love with were the ensemble. These four actors took on every other role in the show and they absolutely killed it. First of all, their makeup design; I could see it from the first balcony and its marriage to the lighting was amazing. Their movement was so precise and fine-tuned and their harmonies were on point. Shannon Blanchet, Brydon Dowler-Coltman, Graham Mothersill, and Jamie Tognazzini bring out such stellar performances, I applaud them all.

Director, co-writer, and composer Jonathan Christenson (along with co-Writer Beth Graham) have created a rather interesting world for the actors to live in. Despite my apprehension with the storyline the words chosen were so rich and provocative, they painted such beautiful imagery. 

And the set; I’m melting. It was simplistic, yet functional, and visually engaging. I think it was the perfect balance between utility and style. No wonder, with Kerem Cetinel’s set and lighting design together, it painted such a beautiful, dystopian snapshot. This, along with with Choreographer Laura Krewski, and Music/Sound Designer Matthew Skopyk’s individual creations, my senses were engaged from start to finish. 

This visually stunning performance is playing at the Martha Cohen Theatre until November 5th so you have plenty of time to grab a chocolate bar and head down to Fortune Falls. See you there.

Photo: Scene from Fortune Falls, presented by Alberta Theatre Projects. DAVID COOPER