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In Performance: Chapman/Sirna-Frest, Welcome to the Gun Show (Exponential Festival)

Welcome to the Gun Show: a Chekhovian Song Cycle
Julia Sirna-Frest/Shane Chapman/Patrick Vassel
Exponential Festival, Slipper Room
January 14-15

Composers Julia Sirna-Frest and Shane Chapman lit up the Slipper Room in Welcome to the Gun Show, an hour-long set of original songs with lyrics exclusively from Chekhov’s writings. Before diving in, Sirna-Frest explained the concept behind the set and invited the packed crowd to “sit back and enjoy the melancholy.” Melancholy was certainly to be had, with most of the many-membered band dressed in mourning-for-my-life black, playing songs focused on unrequited love, getting old, and wanting to go to Moscow. But a whole lot of fun was to be had, too. Sirna-Frest provided vodka and sno balls between songs, and listening to the songs themselves became something of a game of trying to figure out which plays the lines might have come from. But Welcome to the Gun Show is for theater-lovers and music-lovers alike. It was easy to move from Chekhovian connection to enjoyment of the songs in their own right. Lyrics like “I’ve been out of my mind / and I close my eyes / and beg for you to stay” held up completely on their own–especially as played by such a talented array of performers (and dressed and lit by the always talented Ásta Bennie Hostetter and Kate McGee). Welcome to the Gun Show was a very clever concept with a very savvy execution. Here’s to seeing what classic plays Sirna-Frest and Chapman use for song lyrics next.

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