I went into this production thinking "another pop rock musical, let's see what happens" but I was super pleased with the production. Awkward Stage productions have done this musical a great service by putting this all female cast together. They were strong and powerful. There were some teething problems and the live band was a bit loud, I couldn't hear the voices of the performers, but after the first 15 minutes it was superb. Funny and thoughtful, it gives you a sense of the what it feels like to go through a journey of commitment and difficulty with relationships. The performance of this young company was beyond my expectations.
~ reviewed by Karen Flynn
Created - and recreated for every performance - by Jennifer Pielak and Peter Abando. Inside Voices was conceived by the two main performers as well as the Production Manager Alison Chisholm.
This is Improv on steroids as the performers create each performance anew based upon the "inside voices" that drive their responses, their actions, and spoken and sung dialogue. The premise of the piece is: "what happens if these inside voices were all let out to play as they wished."
Abando is a marvellous pianist who provides the moment-to-moment sound track throughout the show. Pielak is the one who provides most of the movement and spoken and sung words. (I am curious to know more about how the two communicate and influence each other as they focus on their internal dialogues.) Pielak becomes very child-like and playful through the hour long performance. Abando and the piano are props for her as much as they are cast members. The performers are both well trained, excellent actors and musicians and clearly know their craft.
I found myself anticipating 'something' even while knowing that each performance would be unique and completely improvised. It must be habit, but once I settled into the flow and let go of expectation the play became joyful and almost meditative. I recommend it for anyone interested in improv. For those who need structure, story arc, and narrative this will not likely work for you.
Inside Voices is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Evelyn McKelvie
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
The Lady Show – A Comedy Thing is smart, sexy, self-aware, and side-splittingly hilarious! It really delivers on the show’s tagline – “Putting the joy in feminist killjoy”. The creative team artfully and positively dissects topical discriminations in the news, pop culture, and society at large to unending laughter from the audience.
In the past I have had numerous emotionally draining experiences lamenting the patriarchy, racism, sexism, and misogyny; often enlightening but draining nonetheless. Before seeing this show, I never thought I could come out the other side of this topic feeling as enlightened and uplifted as I did leaving The Lady Show. I was in such high spirits leaving this performance and the positivity and hilarity has stuck with me. I am so thankful and excited to have discovered this comedy show! Can’t wait to see what the comedic genius of Fatima Dhowre, Diana Bang, Morgan Brayton, and Katie-Ellen Humphries brings us next.
Sonja’s Favourite Bits:
Missed the Mark for Sonja:
~ reviewed by Sonja Cvoric
TJ Dawe has earned his reputation as a storyteller. A Canadian Bartender at Butlin’s is the most conversational of all the performances I’ve seen at the Fringe so far. Some of it is dramatized, but for the most part we simply see TJ sharing some of the stories of his life with us, recounting them casually and humorously like someone entertaining his friends around a campfire. Yet this is just a conceit. We do not see the usual stumbling of speech, groping for memories, or pawing for the right word that one would expect from a campfire story. Canadian Bartender is beautifully polished.
That probably isn’t surprising because, although this staging is TJ’s first re-mount of the show in fifteen years, prior to that time TJ had learned it by rote. It’s the story of a young TJ’s sabbatical to a small, struggling seaside resort in England. The performance is one part narrative, one part observational comedy. This includes some beautifully witty and mildly dark humour about death as well as a lot of observations about the differences between English and Canadian culture.
Some of these cultural differences seemed to me a little obvious. I wonder if, in the intervening years, Netflix and YouTube have made Canadians more aware of English customs and idioms? Or could it be just me?
Overall, Canadian Bartender is a lot of fun and a truly nourishing experience. At the end, beneath the disarming wit and humour, the thought-provoking asides, and the absorbing narrative voice, we can also marvel at the craftsmanship required to make every element of the story come together into a satisfying whole.
A Canadian Bartender at Butlin's by TJ Dawe is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Mattias Martens
Canadian politics has never been so exciting as when the cast of Trudeaumania re-enacts Pierre Trudeau’s time as Prime Minister of Canada. Trudeaumania is like Canada’s version of Hamilton for the States; the story of a man who greatly impacted Canada’s government and looked suave while doing it.
Trudeaumania has everything a musical should have: great choreography complete with cheesy jazz-hands and a tap dance-off, three songs within the first ten minutes of the show, and great ear-catching music. The music explores several different styles including: tango, traditional, rap, rock’n’roll and the blues.
The small but super energetic ensemble makes the show! Each member plays several different roles featuring their excellent vocal and facial expressions. Playing at the Firehall Arts Centre in Gastown this show is a must-see, and you might even want to go back for more!
Trudeaumania by Walking Shadows is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Selene Dublanko
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