What an incredible talent. I'm blown away by this story of how someone leaves Scientology. I expected it to be full of emotion and raw, but I loved every minute of this experience. There's a lot of sadness and hilarity and you really feel like you're on that journey with her, experiencing all the losses over time. I feel the poster was a little misleading, but ignore that and go see it anyway, very worth it.
~ reviewed by Karen Flynn
This show written by Colleen Brow, at Studio 16, in the beginning felt like a very TEDtalk or radio show feel to it, (Colleen Also has done radio for CBC, so it makes sense she has the voice and presence of a radio host) Colleen had good presence and well-spoken, which in theatre feels out of place somehow? It didn’t feel like theatre. It felt very polished and professional, which for a fringe show, seemed odd and different, good different, yes, but still strange.
The material and subject was not in my realm, as it was about getting older and being at their midlife point as a woman, who is married and has children, and I’m a queer two-spirited woman, who doesn’t ever want children and doesn’t relate to the whole Uterus=woman. But as most shows, they write what they know and it was done well. It had some very funny somewhat relatable jokes, but a lot fell for me simply because of age gap and experiences.
The one thing I really related to was using laughter to get through tough times, I definitely enjoyed the openness of artists and being vulnerable while also being lighthearted and playful about life and death.
~ reviewed by Michelle Williams
~ video review by Karen Flynn
WRITTEN REVIEW BY KAREN ROLLER:
Jon Bennett’s How I Learned to Hug is a fast paced story of Jon’s trials and tribulations with love starting with grade school and including losing his virginity. But don’t worry he takes time to breathe.. and to run.. run so far away. With a few visual aids such as a projection screen and a pink satin dress he shares his most embarrassing moments including his horrible tattoo while he manages to incorporate references to his other project Pretending Things are a Cock. I think anyone who has loved and lost can relate to this piece and Bennett helps us realize that it’s okay to laugh at yourself and move on. Engaging, humorous and vulnerable he is a great storyteller and worth seeing.
~ written review by Karen Roller
I also forgot to mention that the big part of the show is he's a clown, the way he moves, and acts, it's very much like a clown. But instead of a red nose, or any nose, he wears a red suit, which is how he makes a distinction between the two characters he embodies, by taking off the hood or taking off part of the red suit. It's also a unique way of presenting clowning and the 2 characters. It's my favourite thing about the costume.
Red Bastard: Lie with Me is playing 6 - 16 September at Performance Works as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Michelle WIlliams
One Step at a Time is a fun, playful, and entertaining way to get to know the writer and actor of this one-man show, James Melcher. Melcher’s stage persona is warm and inviting – I found myself completely enfolded and engrossed in his stories about growing up, learning, meditating, and making choices. I feel like I came out learning from Melcher’s self-reflection and self-discoveries. For example, I love the way he describes and contextualizes opportunities to make choices and will try to apply this to my own life: making a decision as an opportunity to stop, commit, and learn something, regardless of the outcome of the decision.
Sonja’s Favourite Bits:
Missed the Mark for Sonja:
One Step at a Time is playing at Studio 1398 September 6 - 16 as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Sonja Cvoric
Reggae music soothed the Studio 16 Theatre as fringers trickled in at the Sunday, September 9th showing of Eric Jaffe’s C-. How appropriately college, I thought, recalling my own undergrad years with equal parts nostalgia and nausea.
C- is a one-man show written and performed by Eric Jaffe. Inspired by 65 interviews conducted with former fraternity brothers, as well as Jaffe’s own experiences, it is a story about life spent floundering in and out of college.
Jaffe is an entertaining performer and compelling storyteller. Speaking to him after his performance (I found him humble and gracious), I confessed my doubts going into the show. “How am I, a millennial woman, going to relate to the stories of these older men?” A middle-aged man who went to school in the 80s in the southern United States, Jaffe and I couldn’t be more different. Yet! I related to his stories of academia-acquired disappointment and confusion (ones that haunt me to this day). But despite many real moments of resonance, C- is also a show about male disillusionment. The vignettes were often punctuated by misogynist jokes and expressions of white male privilege, which, like the frat bros depicted, haven’t aged well.
C- is playing at Studio 16 September 6 - 16 as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Reija Jean
SELF-ish is the story of a woman, Esther (played by Diana Bang), in her mid thirties navigating the trials and tribulations that come along with that phase of life, additionally burdened and gifted with her Korean-Canadian family. As the play progresses we meet various members of her family, all played skillfully and hilariously by Esther. Bang puts on a strong and physical performance running, crashing, punching and kicking her way around the stage.
While the play starts off quite funny as the story progresses we discover that Esther may be using all the sarcasm and humour to detract from some emotional family dynamics. I was most struck by how Esther’s frustrating and sometimes sad moments are framed in a funny way, but this approach shifts as the play evolves into a more sentimental discussion.
SELF-ish by Classy Little Bitch Productions is playing at the Revue Stage 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Brieanna Fiander
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
This clever piece by Gemma Wilcox takes you into the life of a woman surprised by a road trip mapped out for her by none other than her recently deceased mother. Her company on this solo trip includes her talking dog, her talking caravan, and 20 other distinct and opinionated characters that Wilcox single handedly brings to life with expertise, humour, and infectious energy.
In fact, it’s her vivacious energy that makes this one woman show impossible to look away from. Be prepared for audience interaction, supernatural objects, and just a ton of reasons to laugh. Mixed up in these many funny moments are a few solid, serious ones that really slow the plot down to the point you truly feel for Wilcox’s alter ego as she makes her journey.
I also have to commend Wilcox on her projection. I was seated at the back of the theatre and could hear each and every word spoken clearly. My only criticism in the sound department is that the songs used to break up the scenes were various degrees of too loud, and as someone who wears a hearing aid, I found it abrasive.
All in all Wilcox is a gem, and judging by the standing ovation she received, my fellow audience members felt the same way.
Magical Mystery Detour is playing at Studio 1398 September 6 - 16 as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Elizabeth Goode
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
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