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.
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
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!
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!
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!
What has Assaulted Fish been up to lately? Glad you asked!
After slowly creeping her way across Canada, Assaulted Fish’s Diana Bang finally brings her critically acclaimed one-woman show SELF-ish home to Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival.
Written by fellow Fish, Kuan Foo and directed by Fish-alum Dawn Milman, SELF-ish tells the story of Esther Jin, a 30-something Korean-Canadian navigating her relationship with her family in the aftermath of a recent tragedy. It’s a bit funny, it’s a bit sad – sort of like life.
Here’s what others have said about the show:
“Kuan Foo’s script resonates especially for Asian-Canadian audience members. When Esther’s tears finally come, Bang has no trouble digging deep, and…it’s hard not to feel those same emotions.” — Now: Toronto
“Movement is important here, as are expressions, because they help carry the emotional range and complexity of Esther’s story and character. Bang’s performance is dynamic and delivered everything that this part demanded.
The writing too carried its own force in the most understated way. Written by Kuan Foo, SELF-ish gives us Esther’s voice and the voices of those who we don’t even see on stage (her father, mother, brother, and her boss Daryll) through the impact of storytelling.” — Mooney on Theatre
“Funny, human and universal…” — Culture Vulture TV
When: September 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 & 15
Where: The Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston St on Granville Island
Cost: $15 + $7 Fringe Membership
General admission seating. No latecomers. Rated 14+ (coarse language).
Click here for show times and to purchase tickets.
Hope to see you there!