*Trigger Warning for This Show* - Discussions of suicidal thoughts, mental illness, depression, anxiety.
Although this piece was only described as examining the plight of insomnia, it would be a disservice to Al Lafrance and to his audience to reduce I Think I’m Dead to such a simplistic description. Lafrance’s show is riddled with discussions of pop culture, family dynamics, inter-dimensionality, and most of all - mental illness.
Lafrance takes a deep dive into his own consciousness at a pace which can only be described as “full-tilt”. Performed in an extremely intimate, dark, and hot venue, the intensity of Lafrance’s story is palpable in an almost confining way. Overall, Lafrance is a strong storyteller and a lovely person - His production I Think I’m Dead reflects these traits admirably.
Al Lafrance: I Think I'm Dead is playing at Arts Umbrella 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Madisen Steele
Click "read more" for the full video transcript.
Welcome theatre addicts. My name is Madison Steele. Today I'm gonna be reviewing Al La France's "I Think I'm Dead" at the Art's Umbrella as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. I am outside of the Art's Umbrella. Ironically, I do not have an umbrella, and it's pouring rain. Al La France's show sounds really, really interesting. Apparently, it's about insomnia, which if you know and love anyone who has worked in the arts or you work in the arts, you've probably had insomnia before. I'm kind of talking like a newscaster, and I don't know why.
What I'm excited to see in this show is a comedic take on the idea of sleep deprivation, because really that's not something that's all that funny. I've had my own personal bouts of insomnia. I know almost everyone that I know has also had their personal bouts of insomnia. We'll see how this goes. I'm sure there's going to be a lot more to the show than just that. Okay, we'll see you later. Thanks for watching.
Oh my God. I just filmed like an entire review and my camera was not rolling. It was such a good one too. I was like so on point. I'm gonna be on point again, don't worry. Here we go. So, I just saw Al La France's "I Think I'm Dead" at the Art's Umbrella. First impressions of Al, I kind of came into the venue, and he was standing right there introducing himself to everyone who walked in. It's a super, super small venue, so he kind of said hi to everybody. He was super nice. He just seemed like a really lovely, genuine person. He also put down little fans and pamphlets on all of the seats, so that we could fan ourselves, because the venue was so small and got super hot. I thought that that was really thoughtful and sweet. Go, Al. Very, very nice.
In my experience, insomnia is followed by the things that cause the insomnia, and I was right. This show deals heavily with mental illness and mental health issues. Just to be forewarned before you go and see this show if you have a history of mental illness or depression that this show might be a bit of a trigger for you, but Al is speaking from his own experiences. He deals with it in a really, really engaging, interesting, and positive way. He's telling his story in order to facilitate other people to tell their stories. I think it's a super important piece.
Another thing to note with this show is that the pace is super fast. Al talks like a mile a minute. He doesn't slow down. At one point, he told us that he was actually 30 second behind where he was supposed to be, and we all laughed because that sounded insane because he was talking so fast. It was very funny, but also just to note if you have problems hearing or if you need something that's a bit of a slower pace that this may not be the show for you. I found it really, really fascinating to keep up with this pace of his brain and his speech. It just added a really fascinating layer to what he was talking about, but maybe not for everyone.
Al La France is an amazing storyteller. He was super, super engaging the whole time. One thing that I really, really noticed is that he took us with him on his journey. He did not leave a single one of us behind. We were all there with him. Despite the fast pace, it was hard to not be engaged in what he was saying. He speaks with so much conviction, so much passion, and so much heart that he really like ... It was gripping. It was really gripping to watch. He also come across as a really kind of genuine and kind person, albeit self-deprecating, but it was easy to be in the space with him and to hear his story.
The one thing that I will say about this show that I'm not 100% about is that maybe it was the venue space, like I'm not 100% what it was, but there were definitely moments where I felt overwhelmed by feeling like I was kind of sitting inside of his brain. The pace was super, super fast. The content was really intense. Also, we were in this tiny like black box of a room with only a handful of other people. It made it very intense.
Again, I may be a more sensitive audience member; however, there were moments where I felt ... it felt like I was sitting inside of his brain. I think that that is actually so interesting and a really, really effective mechanism. It was just a little bit uncomfortable, but I think that's okay considering the subject matter and the content was about mental health and mental illness. Engaging to that point is a really fascinating way to do theatre. You don't get that with any other medium, right? If you went to go see a movie about this, you would not feel like you were sitting inside of anyone's brain. It's a very specific thing when you're watching a live performance. I think as much as I felt uncomfortable with it, I think it was fascinating, so fascinating.
Thank you so much for watching this video. My name is Madison Steele. I just reviewed Al La France's "I Think I'm Dead" at the Art's Umbrella as a part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. If you like this video, leave us a comment. If you saw this show and had different thoughts or ideas or you agree with me, please comment, like, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for theatre addicts. Have a blessed, blessed day wherever you are. Thanks for watching.
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