Arts & CultureCampus & City

2019 Fringe Festival Review: Pack Animals

Pack Animals is campy, feminist and raunchy

Prepare to shed away your shyness and insecurities when watching Pack Animals. The touring show that just wrapped up at the 2019 Edmonton Fringe Festival takes pride in its middle finger to the prudish, mansplaining “you should smile more”s of the world.

Producers and performers Holly Brinkam and S.E. Grummett bring an entire new understanding of what it means to perform theatre while performing gender. It’s this unapologetically queer and feminist philosophy that pairs so well with the show’s raunchy skits, its watermelon ukelele, and its masterfully played recorder.

By being so immediate in their innuendos and double entendres of all kinds, it feels as though Pack Animals risks alienating uncomfortable audiences that had no idea what they signed up for. Even then, Pack Animals finds a wide range of remedies to alleviate any possible alienations that stifle the room.

The skit-based show maintains a semi-linear continuity, peppered throughout with musical interludes, fourth-wall breaks, self-deprecation, and its own takes on famous Canadian public service announcements of “Hinterland Who’s Who.” In these segments, the show introduces us to the pack animals ever-existent in our landscapes of hook-up cultures, be they at your local queer hangout spot or at old watering holes like The Ranch. It will be harder to now see the Honey Badger as just the anarchic badass mascot of Internet memes past.

Never a show to lose its finger on the pulse of activist topics, Pack Animals does manage to convey structured political messaging within its one-hour run-time. It does so all while upholding the same degree of laughter as within other parts of the show. This isn’t to say that these segments are perfect; the show does run into instances where a scene goes on beyond the climax of both its punchline and its message. Mainly, this is most evident near the end of the show, where Holly and S.E. sing to “fuck my gender and fuck it good,” repeating a chorus that has lost its initial shock on its audience. However, the show does succeed in packing in tons of content through different means, without the show ever feeling like too much.

Pack Animals is a touring show, run by Scantily Glad Theatre. If you ever get the opportunity, watch this show and bask in its hilariously campy genius.

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