Viktor Barkar of Vancouver Puppet Theatre has some really beautiful puppets. This show really made me wish I was a kid again so I could sit on the mat in the front of the marionette stage and experience the show as it is meant to be experienced. As an adult, I had to settle for sitting on a slightly uncomfortable chair, craning my head to see the floor of the small part of the stage that was being utilized.
Baba Yaga and the Black Flower is a fairy tale for children. It is simple and short and good eventually triumphs over evil. Viktor Barkar the puppeteer does all the voices with a joy and dedication that it utterly charming. I wanted more spookiness, like the online trailer suggested. Maybe there is an atmospheric puppet movie in the future? Now THAT will get me squealing like an excited child!
If you're an adult who likes puppets, likes me, you'll likely get a kick out of this show, but it's better to go with kids and to experience the magic vicariously through them.
Baba Yaga and the Black Flower by Vancouver Puppet Theatre is playing at the False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Danielle Benzon
He’s fast, he’s agile, he’s Fastcar: man of action! Blindfool productions presents a wonderful 45 minute one-man comedy show. The star of the show Amo Gullinello does a superb job of miming, sound effects, gesticulating and dynamic movement to convey a humorous sketch of how everyday life could turn into an action movie. He makes references to several classic action movies and through great facial expression and a few words creates memorable scenes with the help of willing audience members. Get ready to be a part of the action when you go to see Fastcar: man of action.
Fastcar: man of action is playing at False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Selene Dublanko
The Other Side of the Flood is a "spoken word musical theatre" performance created by David Lee Morgan. It's a one man show with multiple characters portrayed by Morgan with the help of some recordings representing additional characters in the piece. The title presumably is biblical, from the Book of Joshua, and would likely be a reference to the future temporal setting of the play – post apocalypse.
The 'action' takes place in the future "on the eve of a worldwide socialist revolution" in the year 2035. Morgan's idea for this piece apparently came out experiences related to his interest in previous significant revolutions: the French Revolution and the Paris Commune, The Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In response to the notion that we will never see the like of those great social upheavals again, Morgan felt compelled to imagine it as a possibility and create this theatrical piece.
Morgan has 'cred' when it comes to poetry and performance. He has a Ph. D. in creative writing, has been published both in numerous publications as well as books, and has been very successful in the UK appearing in many festivals and Poetry Slams of note.
The story involves some people from the opposite ends of the earth - Los Angeles, Bengal, and Dhaka - who are all involved in working toward the goal of a global socialist revolution. They are also living in a time when science has found a way to 'download' a person's brain to create a digital version of the person. Even as I write this I have trouble understanding how these people came to be in relationship and what the point of the story is, especially the digital brain part.
The story is intended to be an apocalyptic vision of the future, wherein we humans are still living in the conflict of good versus evil, socialism versus capitalism, humanism versus religion - at least that is what I gleaned from it. It was, at critical times, difficult to understand some of the poetry so there were gaps in the narrative for me.
Despite this I mostly really liked the poetry. I think this performance piece could be successful if it were professionally staged and performed by a more credible actor, with higher quality lighting, props, sound, and staging. Morgan alone doesn't have the chops to create the atmosphere and emotional charge that the play demands. The play is interesting but may be damning it by faint praise, but the best I can say.
The Other Side of the Flood by David Lee Morgan is playing at the False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Evelyn McKelvie
With the stage presence of both a touring magician and a mad scientist, Louis Pezzani did not let a relatively small matinee audience discourage him from making the absolute most of his production: Mind Magic. Pezzani skillfully demonstrated his ability to not only influence the minds and read the behaviour of the audience as promised, but to use his natural charisma to captivate and lead audience members to believe in that which seemed impossible until it was before our eyes. In some ways the experience of Mind Magic left me with more questions than answers, but with that came a feeling that anything is possible with the power of clear and directed intention.
Mind Magic by Louis Pezzani is playing at False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Madisen Steele
No Belles is a heart-warming and entertainingly education play. This show is expertly and passionately pulled off and deserves the great success it has received since its debut in 2014. I hope this show continues touring for the next 4 years, 40 even! I hope that one day the scientific community will give this theatre company more women in science to include in their show. The current version of the show features 8 scientists, each of whom is spotlighted in a separate episode of the show. Each episode follows a different format – including slam poetry/rap, skits, sock puppets, letters, and illustrations – such that each episode is presented in a manner as unique as the woman it spotlights.
Sonja’s Favourite Bits:
Hearing the actors relate to some of their favourite scientists, describing why/how much they care about these women – both as scientists and as people. Their passion for the content is infectious and makes me want to go out and learn more!
No Belles by Portal Theatre is playing at the False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Sonja Cvoric
Virginia Jack is a comedy improv play crafted by the company of the same name. On Friday, September 7, during their 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival opening night show, improv comedians Briana Rayner and Shawn Norman created a one-act play on the spot. I was there, along with a handful of others, to witness and judge.
Creating an entire play based on an audience-suggested location is incredibly ambitious, and both Rayner and Norman seem to be quite skilled. However, I really felt like the show could have used more energy and enthusiasm from the players. Much of the dialogue (particularly during the last half) was meandering, and the plot points and character elements often felt “played out” or cliché.
The description for Virginia Jack cites “arthouse cinema” as an inspiration for this show, and describes it as “fantastically bizarre.” This feels misleading. The LGBTQ tag also seems slightly beguiling.
Yes, this show garnered a few authentic laughs, but I was expecting something more zany. The set was simple (two chairs and a black stage), but I’m thinking that the actors could have drawn some inspiration from a few props. Perhaps they were disappointed by the small crowd size. (And the audience-suggested locales definitely lacked imagination.)
It is worth noting that, this year, Norman was replacing Virginia Jack founding member Nicole Passmore. I wonder how much experience Rayner and Norman have playing off of each other. All that said, this was my first live improv comedy show. Perhaps all of the above is just part of the improv experience. Please chime in if you have a differing (or similar) perspective. I love a good argument.
Virginia Jack is playing at the False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Reija Jean
The Cockwhisperer - A Love Story is the story of "one woman's quest to find the love and the penis of her dreams". Collette Kendal is a Canadian Stand-up comic and author/performer of several solo productions. She is a natural story-teller and talented performer. She had the audience in the palm of her hand from the opening lines to the close of the show last night.
The Cockwhisperer is not for the faint of language as Collette does not hold back in her description of the coming of sexual age of a young teenage girl and her subsequent life as a woman capable of looking after her own physical desires. The show is just 90 minutes and moves along without any lapses in energy. There is no costuming and lighting, sound and props are minimal. It is Collette on stage alone for the whole show. The audience seemed to love the show . I enjoyed it too.
The Cockwhisperer - A Love Story is playing at the False Creek Gym 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Evelyn McKelvie
Click "read more" for the full video transcript.
Overall, The ADHD Project was highlighted by Carlyn Rhamey’s wonderful storytelling and ability to be present with the audience. She shared reactions with audience members, and addressed unexpected moments/technical difficulties with grace and humour. Rhamey reminds us that ADHD is not only a medical diagnosis or disability, but that it is personal - a world in and of itself.
The areas which could have been improved upon or better addressed - an acknowledgement of the privilege that comes with having access to resources such as special education, personalized attention, parental support, and even a diagnosis in the first place, as well as an acknowledgement that there can be a variety of experiences of ADHD. Although there are common symptoms and signs, there are also many different ways that ADHD can present itself in children and adults, men and women, and people from different backgrounds.
All in all, a wonderful show and an important topic addressed by a neuro-diverse team of talented and endearing artists.
The ADHD Project by Squirrel Suit Productions is at the False Creek Gym on Granville Island, 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Madisen Steele
Click "read more" for the full video transcription.
Overcome Stage Fright and find confidence in your unique voice.