by Chris Craddock & Nathan Cuckow

A Co-Production of Quiet Things Collective and Blarney Productions


Jamie Cavanaugh & Chris W. Cook

Directed by Wayne Paquette

Posters & Photographs by Ryan Parker Photography https://ryanparkerphotography.com



Outstanding Fringe Production

Outstanding Director (Wayne Paquette)

Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actor (Jamie Cavanaugh)

Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actor (Chris W. Cook)




In 3 … 2 … 1, a black tragicomedy named for the classic prairie boy ritual of hat-trick beer-slamming, a couple of small-town lads are applying themselves, with fierce, almost philosophical single-mindedness to an epic bender in a Wetaskiwin garage.

Best friends Clinton (Jamie Cavanagh) and Kyle (Chris Cook) are “laying down a good foundation,” as they put it, for the “all-you-can-eat buffet” of coke, pot, poppers, Jack Daniels (“be a good redneck, do the shot!”), vodka, Valium stolen from Kyle’s mom, and smack Clinton has assembled for the occasion, a tribute to their absent friend Danny.

They’re also laying down a foundation, and getting wasted is the only way they know how, for male friendship, the bond that makes it all “suck a little less” — the meagre dreams, the vague fretful futility of it all, the downward slide into settling for something. What do you want out of life? they ask each other. “I don’t want anything, man, but I’m still (expletive) disappointed,” says Clinton, the whitetrash half of the pair, who works at the Sev (the 7-Eleven). “What if this is as good as it gets?” says rich-kid Kyle, recently promoted to “sandwich artist” at Subway (“fat people depend on me.”)IMG_0878w-3438607760-O

This compulsively watchable 2004 play by Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, which gets explosive chemistry in the revival directed by Wayne Paquette, is a foul-mouthed, brash, violent (“No no, hit me for real, man! Pretend you’re my dad”), appallingly hilarious investigation into what it means to be a man. It is also heartbreaking. Cavanagh is superb as the more volatile one, the leader whose furious excesses are a race against bottomless sadness, with Cook his match as the more pliable, secretly conventional and terrified one.

The ebb-and-flow of their conversation, hilarious tangential rants, and throwaways on everything from boobs to politics to political correctness is perfectly judged.

4.5 stars out of 5


VUE WEEKLY – Kathleen Bell



With difficult characters that are somehow made real thanks to some stunning and darkly witty writing by local playwrights Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, 3…2…1 is a rough mix of drugs, desperation and grief. Mourning the loss of their best friend Danny, Clinton and Kyle are two leftover grunge fans who can’t figure out what they want out of life. “I may not want anything [in life], but I’m disappointed,” says Clinton. “I’m really fucking disappointed.” Replete with moments of profound honesty, audiences should be warned: this is a rocky play to sit through. But some lines are just so skillfully insightful in the most everyday kind of way, you’ll be hanging on every painful (often funny) word.

4 stars out of 5




3…2…1 is an existential, raging, headbanger, punk scream of anguish.

For this remount, writers Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow have enlisted an impressive production team which includes Wayne Paquette as director and Jamie Cavanagh and Chris Cook as performers. The story follows an event in the lives of Clinton and Kyle, two dudes from Wetaskiwin. When their buddy, Danny, dies in a traffic accident they get together in a garage to give him a proper send-off — fortified by booze, drugs and rock and roll.

The scenes are extremely well written and, my how these two young men can act. They have the easy chemistry of two people who have known each other for a long time. Generally, getting wasted is more fun as a participatory act and watching fictional characters in a play get juiced is pretty dull stuff. They think they are brilliant but in reality they are just a couple of sad drunks. But Cavanagh and Cook create a series of increasingly frenzied scenes (as in a Kurt Cobain concert) that are theatrically dazzling. Paquette expertly exploits the similarities and differences between the two actors until they strike a combustable energy on stage.

IMG_1097-3437373480-OThe two peak, the drugs no longer work, and in the inevitable depression that follows, the pain of their lives bursts full flame through the chemically induced haze. Things that have long been left unsaid, and that have haunted their friendship, are blurted out. The dysfunctional families. The beatings. There was the time when they were forced to shoot a beloved but very sick dog. The writers turn the emotional screws and the drama becomes something else completely.

And then there was Danny. The leader. The friend. The prime mover. The secret that drove them apart.

This accomplished company will inexorably draw you into their story. The ending is stark, blunt and chilling.

4 suns out of 5







Recommendations for the 2014 Edmonton Fringe

EDMONTON – Fringed and Confused? Don’t let the title of this year’s Fringe Festival put you in a spin. Confusion is possibility, my friends.

And the whole secret to having fun on your last weekend at the 33rd annual edition of Edmonton’s big international theatre bash is to embrace it. Take a chance, have a fling with something you don’t know whether you’ll dig. Surprise yourself.

The 211-show universe has polished gems, newborn bright ideas with places to go, valiant attempts, loopy one-offs, brave near-misses, semi-formed works-in-progress, spectacular flame-outs. A show doesn’t have to be either in its ultimate form, or a masterpiece, to intrigue, entertain or inspire you to argue loudly with others.

The only 100-per-cent certainty at the Fringe is that buskers will ask for money and that you haven’t truly fringed till you get your butt out of the beer tent and into the venues to see some shows. Ah, as for that, follow your mood toward …

– A performance to grab your heart and knock on your soul: Belinda Cornish is stunning as the devastated heroine of The Deep Blue Sea, a ’50s play set by the neglected Brit master of sub-text, Terence Rattigan, whose subtleties you’re unlikely to see anytime soon anywhere in this country.

– A “solo show” that’s actually a play: try Crookback, which lets a serial killer loose on his relatives, all weaker and more gullible than he is, who will become his victims. The play? Shakespeare’s Richard III. The virtuoso actor? Tim Welham.

IMG_0900w-3438614247-O– Stage chemistry that will startle your socks off, and turn ferocious comedy into explosive tragedy (harder than it sounds). Jamie Cavanagh and Chris Cook are hilariously authentic as a couple of small-town lads moving right along from beer slammers toward an apotheosis of a bender in this revival of 3 … 2 … 1.

– A show to NOT take your conservative relatives to: See above.

– A show that will catapult you, effortlessly and with much laughter and fun, right out of your instinctive aversion to dance as an art form: Red Wine, French Toast, And The Best Sex You’ve Ever Had is like bouncing on a bed when it’s supposed to be bedtime.

– A musical for people, like you, who think of themselves as people who don’t like musicals: It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Superman! is a bright, funny comic strip that sings, dances and makes fun of our adulation for action heroes. And this discovery of something clever and neglected comes in a hilarious, high-style Plain Janes production sparkling with performances from triple-threats, led by Sheldon Elter as the sincere do-gooder Man of Steel, up against the crazed forces of evil who are raging with jealousy (specifically, Garett Ross as a mad scientist and 10-times Nobel Prize loser.)

– A Fringe experience in a place that never was a theatre, and never will be again. Try We Glow, a smart satire of corporate ruthlessness that happens in a boardroom, complete with audio-visual aids, and then turns strange. Or Eavesdrop, in which you get to do exactly that (headphones provided), in Remedy Café on 109th Street, where you get a special frisson, foam on your latte so to speak, knowing that not everyone there knows you’re at a play. Or Tin, in the Fringe’s smallest venue, a sea container dropped onto the site, and featuring a new play about characters stuck, like you and 14 others, in a sea container. The play might get by you; the experience is eerie. They provide water.

– The reinvention of puppetry: This is a Fringe specialty. In Who Killed Gertrude Crump? the queen of the murder mystery, Agatha Christie, flings them about an isolated country house, along with clues and red herrings. In the hysterical scramble through Canadian history that is The War of 1812: the Musical, Wes Borg and his Victoria cohorts fling entire battalions of Indians onto the stage, where they sing, and everything. It’s that kind of war.

– Self-improvement: See above. You don’t know beans about The War of 1812. This is an antidote to your abysmal, unpatriotic ignorance.

– Personal goals: I remain devastated that I was unable to see a “murder mime musical” (called Murder Mine the Musical). I know nothing about the show, but remain devoted to the concept.

– The bargain of the Fringe: remains Gordon’s Big Bald Head: The So Be It Union (or … Putin On The Ritz!) who, in a spectacular feat of virtuosity, undertake to improvise any show in the program for you, in one hour! Irresistible.



 Edmonton Fringe Viewers REVIEWS:


Mark Stubbings – 2014/08/15 at 8:57 pm

Solid performances. Great script. If you want to see a “real” play at the fringe this is one of them


Taylor – 2014/08/18 at 6:31 pm

Solid performances, great staging and a cool script. You can’t get much better than this at the fringe. See it.


Kelley – 2014/08/20 at 7:13 am

This has been my favourite show this year. Everything is immaculate: the script, the performances, the direction, the fairly-extensive-for-a-fringe-show set. I wasn’t totally sure what kind of show this was going to be going in, and spent the first bit thinking it was a buddy comedy. And parts are, but it’s so much more than that. I don’t think I took a breath for the last 5-10 minutes. You are seriously missing out if you skip 3…2….1. I could not recommend it more highly.


Ephemeral Pleasures Blog


Fringe day 8: puppetry, drama, comedy

On the second Thursday, after my volunteer shift I saw three plays.  Around then I stopped being able to keep up with my goal of posting notes every morning about what I’d seen the night before, so I’m trying to catch up now.  Thursday’s three were all good and very different.

Who Killed Gertrude Crump is a murder-mystery, an Agatha Christie pastiche set in a country house isolated by a storm around the turn of the previous century.  Ryan Gladstone wrote and directed it.  The Fringe program lists the cast as “Tara Travis and puppets”.  Tara Travis introduces the story, as Agatha Christie, and narrates everything besides the dialogue.  She moves props, dresses the set, and operates about ten puppet characters, talking directly to the audience when the puppets aren’t talking.  Her style reminded me a bit of what Ronnie Burkett does in his shows, operating marionettes while being visible and delivering witty asides to the audience as himself, and a bit of the object theatre / found object puppetry that I saw in Sapientia at Canoe Festival.

I was a little restless at the beginning.  It was a little hard for me to see the puppets well enough to learn to distinguish them, sitting at the side in the Suzanne Thibaudeau Auditorium, and several of the characters had similar enough names that I had trouble remembering who was who.  The setup seemed predictable and not very compelling.  Then it occurred to me that I had all the same complaints about a lot of Christie’s work, and that this was actually a clever tribute. The plot then thickened, and I got to feel smart for remembering some clues and I got to enjoy missing others and getting surprised.  After it was over, the performer swore the audience members to secrecy about the plot outcome.

After supper at Cafe Bicyclette, the little bilingual-service cafe in La Cite Francophone, I went to 3…2…1, by Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, starring Jamie Cavanagh and Chris W. Cook.   I loved it.  It was the most emotionally intense drama I saw at this year’s Fringe, building gradually from a scene of two young men in a garage hangout determined to get drunk and high, to the awful context and significant outcomes of their bender.  At first their excesses and rowdiness were just funny, familiar like Bob and Doug, Wayne and Garth, or Dante and Randal, with a leader (Jamie Cavanagh as Clinton) and a follower (Chris Cook as Kyle).  Their reminiscences and stories of their past youth include a third character, their friend Danny who has died, and in the flashback scenes each actor takes a turn as Danny, sometimes in quick succession, using blocking cues to show us who is speaking as Danny in a three-person conversation.  Each character has different redeeming qualities and vulnerabilities, so that we see them as more than loser-caricatures.  Clinton has some loosely-Christian spiritual convictions.  Kyle is proud of how his work at Subway involves supporting people who are trying to eat more healthily or lose weight.  Both of them come from imperfect families and are somewhat trapped in their lives.   The story gets more painful, and I was crying before the end.  Chris Cook is a great tagalong sidekick, and Jamie Cavanagh was perfectly cast in the role of Clinton, as a foulmouthed drunken jerk who turns out to be a complicated tormented tragic character at the same time.

Then I wiped my eyes, got in the car, and went to change my mood at Real Time, the comedy written by Matt Alden of Rapid Fire and directed by Alden and Katie Fournell.  Thanks to the kindness of a stranger in the refreshment tent, I was able to take a friend with me even though the show had been sold out.  Jessie McPhee and Joleen Ballandine, regular Rapid Fire improvisers and two thirds of the cast of last year’s Fringe hit Excuse me … this is the truth!,  play two mismatched young people (Jessie is Billy and Joleen is Jessica) who meet playing an online game, spend time together in person, and explore the possibilities of romance.  The actors also play other parts as needed (Billy’s British mother, Jessica’s marijuana-smoking grandfather, Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, etc, all of them funny and original).  The whole thing was just charming and funny and familiar, including the customs of on-line life of ten years ago.

This entry was posted in Festivals, Theatre and tagged 3…2…1, chris craddock, chris w cook, fringe, jamie cavanagh, jessie mcphee, joleen ballandine, katie fournell, matt alden, nathan cuckow, puppets, real time, tara travis, theatre, who killed gertrude crump on August 25, 2014 by Ephemeral Pleasures.





Fringe Wrap-Up

It feels a little weird to write a wrap-up because technically I am not done. I have a hold-over show to go to this Saturday so that means it’s technically still Fringe, right? I have to say, I was very pleased with the line up for hold-overs this year. I think they really represent some of the best work that was presented this year – best in that the companies involved worked hard and went the extra mile to produce something that was artistically excellent. It’s also very diverse, which I like, as I think it represents the diversity of what Fringe goers want to see. Also, all of the shows held-over made my Word of Mouth posts which tells me that they were the kinds of shows that a Fringe Goer would tell someone to go to!

You can find the Hold-Overs here.

So, as I look back, here are the shows that resonated the most with me from this year’s Fringe Festival. Bear in mind I did not see everything (I think I saw 27 shows in addition to my own 2):

DogFight – This show left me crying. Other than the seating, it felt like so much more than a Fringe show.

McCrackin 2: The Whackining – Going to this show felt like an event. The theatre was packed and even before the show started there was an electricity. Then it started and was deliciously ridiculous!

eleven-oh-four – Best new work I saw this Fringe. Creepy and hilarious.

Flora and Fawna – Hilarious and touching. No Mean Girls!

Red Wine, French Toast and the Best Sex You’ve Ever Had – such a cool show – surprising, athletic, emotional and whimsical.

3… 2… 1… – This was the last show I saw of Fringe and it was well worth the wait. It’s a tightrope of a show that requires excellent direction and acting or else it could easily be a disaster. Luckily, with Wayne Paquette at the helm and Jamie Cavanaugh and Chris W. Cook on stage it veered close enough to the edge to keep us pulled in, but never went off into melodrama.

Anyhow, I hope you all had a great Fringe. I know I did. Two shows was a little much for me to manage, but luckily I had great teams to help them come together and run! See you next August!