LIP SERVICE - VAN FRINGE 2018
Ashley Whitehead and Natalie Tin Yin Gan have been working together since 2012. Their history as friends and artists is apparent in their dynamic on stage. They easily take cues from each other and play perfectly off of one and others skills and talents, making use of their vastly different body shapes and sizes.
The show is part musical, part dance performance, part stand-up, and all heart. These two women sweat on every inch of the stage and cleverly use various lighting techniques to create different settings and moods. Making sure to use inclusive language and calling out misogyny and general ignorance in a quirky, kind, and humorous way make this show a must watch for anyone who is pro vaginas. While they have your attention, these two might just teach you a thing or two.
There is a bit of audience participation. You may find yourself getting quizzed on some anatomy questions and clapping along to some old familiar tunes, but mostly your laughter and enthusiasm seems to be what fuels the artists. For all of the extreme physicality of the show, the best part of their performance was the their facial expressions. Every twitch of the eyebrow is well planned to elicit laughter and groans.
Speaking with the artists after the show, Whitehead and Tin Yin Gan shared that the show has been changing and evolving with each city. They warmly invited audience members to get online and share their thoughts and suggestions. This audience member feels like they have perfected so much of the show, but would have preferred to end with the running scene and bumped the final musical number somewhere in the middle, but I’m a sucker for symmetry.
I personally believe that this show should be sold out for every performance. It is clever, entertaining, charming, hilarious, and generally wonderful. Through a combination of clowning, athletics, musical talent, and acting, these two performers have managed to tackle a taboo subject and make it inviting and fun.
~ reviewed by Brieanna Fiander
Levana Irena Prud’homme and Clay Nikiforuk’s collaborative piece, Life, Blood, Water is a unique and intimate look at an alternative narrative to clinical, normative, state-sanctioned understandings of pregnancy loss.
This piece follows one woman’s personal narrative, as expressed through word and dance storytelling. Prud’homme and Nikiforuk perform in this piece and are joined by dancer Hayley Gawthrop. Prud’homme and Nikiforuk’s choreography and writing works well together to create a sombre and supportive story that poetically and politically examines ideas of body literacy.
I really enjoyed this production and think this is an important piece for everyone, people with uteruses and without. My favourite part of the choreography was the dance implementing jars full of water; the dancer’s body movements were beautifully complemented by the swooshing sounds of the water in the jars.
~ reviewed by Sonja Cvoric
LA PALABRA EN EL TIEMPO
La Palabra en el Tiempo translates to ‘a word in time’, and this captures perfectly the way spoken word and Flamenco dance merge into this high energy piece.
At times hypnotizing, the lead dancer Denise Yeo is one of those artists that’s so skilled in her technique that she’s able to move and play with the limits of the Flamenco forms. She flexes this expertise by using physical theatre to act out the accompanying poetry with the best sort of wild and silly dramatic movements.
On the other hand, I found the poetry of Garth Martens too abstract in its form to detect any real story. Instead, it only served to distract and break up the flow of dancing in a way that I personally found grating. I think the fragmented and emotional words he lumped together were likely an attempt to mimic the emotional non-form of the strains of Andalucian gypsy languages spoken traditionally by Flamenco dancers as an element of the lyrics sung along with this form of dance. However, this needed to be clearer, and didn’t work for me.
The singing was exceptional, and the guitarist really stood out as well. The costuming was wonderful as well.
I recommend attending with an open mind, letting go of your perceptions of how Flamenco should perform itself and instead let your mind wander into the infectious rhythms, melodies and music of this Fringe- worthy piece.
La Palabra En El Tiempo is playing at Studio 16 as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Elizabeth Goode
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