Christmas in Bakersfield
Victoria Fringe Festival
In the quagmire of Edmonton or Winnipeg Fringe Festival Personal Monologues, Christmas in Bakersfield might easily be overlooked. Which would be unfortunate. Bakersfield is Les Kurkendaal’s telling of his experiences visiting his boyfriend’s family one Christmas – as a gay man and African American – and of all the hilarity, awkwardness and overt racism that ensued.
It is an interesting and compelling story, and Kurkendaal, for the most part, tells it well. He stumbled a bit at times, and the sound effects were unnecessary. He did best when he was simply talking to the audience. And the moments where he meandered from the script were the most genuine.
I think that’s my main criticism with this piece – when one tells a story often enough – and scripts it – the story can lose its personal edge. And at times, that is what happened with Bakersfield. However, Kurkendaal was likeable and genuinely funny, and I hope he returns next year with another story.