Author Archive

Fringe 2018 Reviews, Part 2

Note that the following reviews are the completely subjective opinions of the specific writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other members of Assaulted Fish.

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Magical Mystery Detour

At its heart, Magical Mystery Detour is a fairly simple story of a woman named Sandra coming to terms with her mother’s death and a sudden split with her long-term boyfriend by embarking on road trip from London to Land’s End, Cornwall to view the Transit of Venus, a trip she had planned to do with her mother, which has now become her mother’s legacy gift to her. The play follows Sandra’s struggles to navigate the road (and her life) as it takes her down a series of unplanned and sometimes mysterious detours. The magic comes from Gemma Wilcox and her amazing ability to build and populate worlds. Armed only with a piano bench, sound effects and her prodigious talent, Wilcox plays Sandra and 22 other characters, some of which are animals (e.g., Sandra’s dog Solar, a fly and an owl) and inanimate objects (e.g., a neti pot, Sandra’s car and, strangest of all, a lisping, lusty tree). Wilcox achieves all this with lightning-fast alterations in voice, posture and movement, which allow her to play two (or more) sides of a conversation without losing the rhythm of the dialogue. She is a master of maintaining eye line and locating her characters in space so there is never any doubt who is speaking or moving at any time, even when she is cutting back and forth between two different scenes like Sandra receiving some kind of bizarre erotic spa treatment in a roadside “pub and spa” (?!) and Solar simultaneously having enthusiastic sex outside in the parking lot. As can be gleaned from that last example, Wilcox leavens the pathos of Sandra’s journey with many humorous interludes as well as the judicious use of music (including, as the title suggests, a few cuts by the Fab Four). A dazzling and virtuosic performance with tremendous heart. — KF

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Fringe 2018 Reviews, Part 1

Note that the following reviews are the completely subjective opinions of the specific writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the other members of Assaulted Fish.

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Martin Dockery: Delirium

If the offstage Martin Dockery were anything like the onstage Martin Dockery, you’d wonder how he could tie his shoes in the morning without entering into a reverie about the history of knot-tying; digressing into a philosophical inquiry as to why we choose to interpose shoe leather between our feet and the earth; creating a hilarious, fantasy world where the shoeless and shoed are engaged in a perpetual war; and somehow relating all of the above to a developmental, life crisis he was having at that moment. In Delirium, Dockery’s hyperactive imagination turns toward the existential in three autobiographical stories – Dockery’s Canadian girlfriend being held up at the border, a chance encounter at the Burning Man festival, and his grandfather’s book about the life-cycle of the Monarch Butterfly – tied together by recurring themes of passion, loss and transience. These serve as the launching pad for a cascade of frequent and frequently hilarious digressions on among other things, the joy of moving sidewalks, a restaurant that serves nothing but strawberry sandwiches, and a passive-aggressive airplane encounter. While Dockery initially draws you in with his charismatic, rapid-fire, floppy-limbed stage persona, it is the times where he slows down his mind and opens his heart that will linger long after the show is over. In those moments, Delirium resonates with the poignancy of a man who has tasted true happiness, but with it, the absolute knowledge of how fragile and evanescent it is.  –– KF

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The Lady Show

Okay. Let me say right off the top, anything I say about The Lady Show is going to be seriously biased because, quite frankly, I love these ladies. Morgan Brayton has been a friend and a mentor for over a decade and Diana Bang has been my artistic partner-in-crime for fifteen years in the sketch comedy troupe, Assaulted Fish. An excerpt of my own play, Self-ish debuted at a Lady Show last year. I am even wearing a Lady Show hat as I type this. Honestly, I have about as much objectivity as a hockey dad on this one.

So with that in mind, I am going to abandon any pretence of writing a conventional review. I will simply tell you what I like about The Lady Show and let you make up your own mind (which, come to think about it, is pretty much a conventional review).

For the uninitiated, The Lady Show has been putting on regular shows since 2015 and has been a fantastic vehicle for female comedy practitioners in Vancouver, particularly those who exist outside the mainstream. The current line-up is a collective of four individual comedians (Diana Bang, Morgan Brayton, Fatima Dhowre and Katie-Ellen Humphries) who have very different vibes and styles of comedy. The end result is kind of like one of those old time variety shows, where different acts get to strut their stuff before coming together for the big finish. While all four cast members present material that is decidedly progressive – proudly feminist, multicultural and LGBTQ positive – their approaches and comedic sensibilities are very diverse. The personal and intimate stand-up comedy of Dhowre sits side by side with the character-based, conceptual monologues of Brayton; the sharp, pointedly topical Humphries leads into the surreal, absurdist Bang. And are they funny? God, yes.

So to summarize, I like my comedy diverse, progressive and laugh-until-you-lose-braincells funny. If you do too, chances are you’ll like The Lady Show. –– KF

And in other news…

There are still four more showings of Self-ish, starting today at 5:00 PM. If you haven’t gone, we would love to see you there. If you have gone and liked it, there are still plenty of tickets available so tell your friends!

Here’s what the Georgia Straight had to say about Self-ish.

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Interview with Cold Tea Collective

Cold Tea Collective is a new media platform set up by some enterprising Vancouverites to share the stories, perspectives and experiences of North American Asian millennials. At present, they have been hosting written and video stories to their site, but they will be expanding into podcasting. They recently invited a pair of Gen-x’ers (aka Diana and Kuan) to talk about the upcoming production of Self-ish at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Here’s an excerpt:

Kuan Foo: I’ve always been interested in the idea of the self, how we define ourselves, and the things that we draw upon to anchor ourselves as we move through our daily lives. One of the reasons it’s called Self-ish, with the hyphen very deliberate, is when you break that word down, when you think about “self-ish” it sort of means that you’re not quite yourself. And I think when you go into the grieving process or when you’re going through a trauma, or when you’re being selfish, you’re not quite yourself.

Foo and Bang approached the creative project as not only an opportunity to express their own personal experiences with grief, but to also write a multi-dimensional character for a POC actor. Both expressed a need for more complex characters to be played by diverse actors on screen and on stage.

Diana Bang: Kuan pulled a lot from his own life experiences, but he also knew that he was writing for me. I brought the Korean-ness to it, with my mother being Korean, and little details here and there to make it more true to life. But as Kuan said, it’s a universal story. I was trying to bring my whole self to it: My vulnerable side. My flawed self. My selfish self. And my loving self. It was trying to bring my whole person to the character, and that’s what I want to do with acting. In terms of representation, we want to see well-rounded, full, flawed, Asian Canadian characters, whether on TV, on film or on stage. We just want to see someone who’s human.

Read the complete interview here!

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Vancouver Fringe Festival Preview with District Local

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Once again, the incredible folks at District Local have invited Marlene and Kuan have pick and preview some shows for this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit the District Local website for the full article. They’re also staging a contest to win tickets to Self-ish!

Remember to check back here or visit our Facebook page during the festival to read mini-reviews of the shows we’re catching. See you at the Fringe!