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PepTides to make theatrical debut at Ottawa Fringe Fest

Playwright Scott Irving wonders what love is, through a scientific lens

Ottawa super-group The PepTides will launch their first piece of musical theatre at the Fringe Festival June 22. Credit: PepTides

It was only a matter of time before Ottawa supergroup The PepTides launched a full-fledged musical.

With nine members, a big sound, eye-catching costumes and energetic creativity to spare, this group was made for theatre. You can see their debut offering, Love + Hate, at the Ottawa Fringe Festival from June 22 to 28.

“Our music for a long time has been described as theatrical, and we thought it was only natural that we turn the albums For Those Who Hate Human Interaction and Love Question Mark into an actual, full-fledged theatre piece,” says Scott Irving, The PepTides’ keyboard player and the playwright behind Love + Hate.

Themes don’t get much bigger than love and hate, but the play goes beyond explorations of the heights of love and the depths of hatred to delve into timely subject matter.

“Obviously, we’re exploring love and hate on a macro level because it’s right there in the title,” Irving says with a laugh. “But on a micro level, more specifically, we’re actually more at the nexus of science, medicine, the drug industry and anthropology/evolutionary biology.”

Science might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking of love and hate, but for Irving the link was natural.

“Any analysis of love is trying to explain what is this thing that we experience, what is this thing we’re all trying to live in our daily lives,” he says. “One way of looking at this thing that attracts people together is pheromones and hormones and receptors and that type of thing. Another way of looking at it is to look back at the evolution of our species to see the social structures that have evolved with our species. Another way is just contemporary diagnosis of love, medicalization of love, that type of thing.”

Despite the weighty subject matter, The PepTides promise a fun production. As always, the visual component will be key, and as they traverse through dark themes of the 21st century, they plan to do it in style.

Costumes have always been important to The PepTides, and Love + Hate is no occasion to skimp. In 2011, the band’s costumes were a nod to their retro-sounding strings and horn samples, Irving says.

“Our overall aesthetic is now more in tune with hyper colours and neon PVC materials, as opposed to tweed and velour and stuff like that,” he says. “Sonically, there’s a bit of that emphasis on synths, but it does sound pretty 2000-y contemporary — but definitely some of the colours you’ll get from the palette will be ’80s-inspired.”

Costumes are fun — for the band as well as the audience — but for Irving, costuming is about more than looking good.

“I’m a huge proponent of musicianship, and I feel like doctors put on their lab coats and dentists put on their lab coats, but we put on our crazy costumes and we’re there to do a great job, which in my view is to blow people’s minds,” he says.