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Ring My Bell

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A 1994 Shouts & Murmurs by Andy Borowitz gets a barking new life as a Toronto Fringe Festival play. From the festival guide:


by Mark Ellis and Denis McGrath
directed by Liza Balkan

Before Pavlov went to the dogs, there was another: his brother. Pavlov has theories. But Nikolai's the one with the saliva. Experiments ensue. This hilarious, true(ish) story plumbs one of the 20th century's greatest scientific triumphs; the experiments that launched a thousand psych textbooks. ‘Pavlov's Brother' is a black comedy about bolshevism, anti-vivisectionists and gastric juices. From the Nobel Prize to the Russian Revolution, this is one story of sibling rivalry and obsession that will condition you to laugh on cue, and leave you drooling for more.

Based on a story [of the same name] in the New Yorker, from one of the writers of Top Gun! The Musical, Writer/Actor Mark Ellis, and Director Liza Balkan.

Cast: Mark Ellis and Paul Fauteux

The all-seeing Eye says:

Ivan Pavlov, so the story goes, briefly let the dogs out to conduct his mouth-watering experiments on his alcoholic little brother Nicolai. Steeped in historical colour, the show is modest in its plot progression, concentrating on Pavlov's subtle cruelties towards his bro. Paul Fauteux succeeds in the meatier role of Nicolai, challenging with a pissed-off smile and rolling naturally in his drunkard scenes. Ellis plays Pavlov as a strictly business scientist and doesn't hit the high notes in the more emotional scenes. A thoughtful drama that's not quite as interesting as its premise suggests. RP [Ryan Porter]

From the comments:

"pavlov´s brother is the only show i´ve seen this fringe...that wasn´t either overpraised or overhyped. it´s hard to believe that anyone connected with top gun the musical did this show, cause it´s so very different. it's serious and funny and heartbreaking and weird and i second the idea that i want to see where this show might go. one hour is probably not long enough to wrestle the themes in this show." "a funny, thought-provoking piece. I think it channels much more than sibling rivalry into the story of these two brothers. Fauteux and Ellis are brilliantly matched as the achiever and slacker pair. Smart staging. The show manages to be touching and human while asking unsettling questions. I hope to see this one evolve into a full-length production." "somewhat disturbing." "i wouldn´t call it dark. touching in the end. some gross out stuff in the middle that was actually kind of funny. good acting and directing too. a great fringe show."

And a mouthwatering morsel of Borowitz:

On the first two days of the experiment, Pavlov repeatedly presented croutons to Nikolai, rang a bell, and waited for his brother to drool on cue. Pavlov wrote in his journal, “My brother is an incredible pain in the ass, but his salivary reflexes are superb.” On the third day, however, the experiment took a sudden turn. When Pavlov rang the bell but refused to produce any croutons, Nikolai responded with a roundhouse punch to his brother’s nose, putting him in the hospital. His mother visited the injured scientist but showed little sympathy. “What were you thinking, ringing the bell but not feeding him anything?” she asked. “You know how cranky Nikolai gets when he’s hungry.” Go to the dogs.

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