Fringe review: The Legend of White Woman Creek

Legend of White Woman Creek, 3 stars out of 5, Stage 3 Walterdale Theatre

The Legend of White Woman Creek

• 3 stars out of 5

• Stage 3, Walterdale Theatre

I came away from The Legend of White Woman Creek with a heavy heart. Not because the story was sad and awful, which it was. But because I was disappointed.

I am a fan of The Coldharts (a.k.a. Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan) and had heard big buzz about this show, seen now for the third time at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. I was hoping it would be something like another of the Brooklyn duo’s works of musical theatre, Edgar Allan — a gothic-inspired look at the beloved poet. I had seen that a few years back and loved it.

This time around, Katie Hartman performs alone, opening the show in the guise of a nervous and spooky academic who studies the paranormal. Later, the character becomes inhabited by the ghost of Anna Mae, a white woman who goes west at the time of the Civil War in the United States.

She is betrothed to a German Catholic man who doesn’t speak much English, and is a cold fish. There is a raid by white folks, with a resulting bloodbath of Indigenous people. I won’t tell you the rest, but you can figure it out. It’s predictable.

Hartman performs a song cycle, a slow series of virtually indistinguishable tunes. She wears a squinty mask of pain throughout the performance. Hartman’s virtuosity is undeniable. But the performance is earnest, lacking variety or any measure of surprise.

– Liane Faulder