bob braker

Bob Brader of Preparation Hex

Something is bothering Bob Brader. Wait: something is plaguing Bob Brader. Something is giving Bob Brader enormous pain, forcing him to go to vulnerable extremes and reach for unorthodox solutions.

It’s his heart. And his anus. The two most vulnerable parts of anyone’s body. And the ones with the richest potential for comedy.

I’m guessing that an early draft of Preparation Hex was titled something like Love & Hemorrhoids, and subsequently dropped when it was deemed too on the nose. On the eve of launching a new play, a deeply personal performance about growing up with a sexually abusive father, Brader’s ass blooms with a searingly painful pustule. Doctors prescribe creams, wiccans send herbs, and everyone counsels a positive attitude. As Brader soaks his posterior and counts down to the play’s opening, he succumbs to magical thinking. Someone, he believes, has put a hex on him. And that someone must be a woman. One of a few, actually.

From there we launch into the meat of the performance: a frustrating, fumbling search for love and fulfillment in the wake of a long-term relationship. For him, it’s occasionally thrilling but confusing and obscurely guilt-ridden (imagine Kafka writing racy Harlequin novels and you’ll get the gist). For the audience, the experience wavers between touching, amusing and sometimes uncomfortable — especially when we realize that the women in his story probably exist somewhere in the real world.

Brader moves neatly back and forth between the two stories, bridging the occasional chronological confusion with a smooth, well-paced delivery. Despite the humiliating tales of medical exams and Brader’s enjoyment of voicing broad, almost cartoonish characters (one character’s sounds uncannily like Miss Piggy, which gets a bit awkward when Brader has her piping up with un-Piggylike sexual requests), Hex is a heartfelt tale of true love and good anal health. If nothing else, I now know that hemorrhoids are pretty common in people over 30, which means I’m way overdue for a round with those painful little lumps.

Preparation Hex is written and performed by Bob Brader and directed and developed by Suzanne Bachner. The play is produced by the John Montgomery Theatre Company in partnership with Little Warriors, a Canadian charitable organization focusing on the education and prevention of child sexual abuse. Hex plays at the Artesian Café on 2627 13th Avenue at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 7 and 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 8. Check the Regina International Fringe Festival web site for the full schedule.