Slowly but surely, SELF-ish is getting closer and closer to Vancouver. If you’re in the BC capital this weekend, check out Diana Bang in her show at UNO Fest, Intrepid Theatre’s 11-day celebration of solo performance (May 9-19). Written by Kuan Foo and directed by Assaulted Fish alum director 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. Don’t worry: there are laughs to be had too!
Visit the Intrepid Theatre/UNO Fest website for all the ticket details.
Yeah, but when do we get SELF-ish in Vancouver?!
In September, Fish Fans, in September. Look for the play at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival (September 6-16). Show times will be available later in August. Stay tuned!
About the play:
SELF-ish had its Canadian debut at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. Here are some reviews from opening night:
“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
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.
Gina Leon & Michael Germant in Gruesome Playground Injuries
Gruesome Playground Injuries
Playwright Rajiv Joseph was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” an epic, phantasmagorical investigation into the Iraq War. “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” which came out after “Bengal Tiger,” seems to get a lot of stick from reviewers for basically not being as ambitious as “Bengal Tiger.” While it is true that “Injuries” is more of a string quartet compared to the symphonic sweep of “Bengal Tiger,” it is a no less sophisticated and affecting play. This becomes manifestly clear when it is blessed with strong performances, as it is in this mounting by Island Productions. “Injuries” tracks best friends Doug and Kayleen as their lives intersect over 30-year period, usually because one or both of them have sustained some kind of horrendous wound. The physical damage suffered by Doug and Kayleen corresponds to the emotional damage inflicted on them, sometimes by the outside world, sometimes by each other. Daredevil Doug’s injuries tend to be physically disfiguring, while the introverted Kayleen bears the more invisible scars of child abuse, eating disorders and self-harm. The play jumps around in time and makes great demands on the actors, who may have to play anywhere from ages 8 to 38 and varying levels of physical and emotional pain from scene to scene. Fortunately, Michael Germant and Gina Leon dig deep and are more than able to meet the challenge. Germant in particular invests Doug with an open sincerity that keeps him grounded and likeable even as his motivations and injuries become increasingly operatic and implausible. Emotionally intense, blackly comic and profoundly moving. – KF
Cry-Baby: The Musical
You’ll have a (ahem) wail of a time at “Cry-Baby: The Musical”. It’s a fun and witty takedown of 1950s tropes: innocent upper class good girl meets wrong-side-of-the-tracks bad boy with a heart of gold. This high-energy production features a talented, diverse cast anchored by some stand-out performances, particularly Victor Hunter who plays the titular lead Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker and Synthia Yusuf who plays the loopy Lenora Frigid. There’s potential to play Cry-Baby Walker strictly for laughs, but Hunter imbues the character with heart and nuance. Similarly, Yusuf transcends what would typically be a “crazy lady” role by giving a committed, pitch-perfect comedic performance. In dialogue or song, every performer nails the comedy and choreography. It was a sell-out crowd on Monday evening, so make the trek to the Firehall Arts Centre and see this solid production before it’s too late. – MD
5-Step Guide to Being German
Paco Erhard has a problem. All his life he has been taught to be ashamed of being German to the point where he is terrified of offending Jews and sometimes introduces himself as half-Spanish to “take the edge off of being German.” Suddenly, recent events in the US and UK have thrust Germany from being the reprehensible “runner-up” in two World Wars into the unfamiliar role of being the guardians of European and world democracy. What is a self-respecting, guilt-ridden German to do?
Well, make hilarious stand-up comedy apparently. Although the “5-Step” conceit gets dropped fairly early, the majority of the show is a self-deprecating exploration of the quirks and contradictions of being German. Erhard’s show makes you realize how much we North Americans have bought into the stereotype of Germans as homogenous, humourless, efficiency robots. Instead, Erhard portrays a Germany that is filled with local and regional diversity and suggests that the German love of order comes from a long history of trying to hold those fighting regions together. Erhard also does not shy away from talking about the Germany’s dark past and how it has shaped his own self-image as a German on the World stage.
While Erhard is merciless in lampooning German culture (a particularly funny bit involves driving habits on the Autobahn) he takes equal aim at other European cultures (he compares the British claim of “ending slavery” to saving someone from being punched in the face by not punching them anymore) and even throws in a few barbs at the US and Canada. But ultimately his goal is to point out how silly and dangerous national chauvinism can be and how it is better to laugh at our differences than fight over them. Erhard is an energetic performer who is both intelligent and funny, which may not make him a good German (in his view, Germans tend to compartmentalize these two qualities), but makes him well worth seeing. – KF
7 Ways to Die, A Love Story
Alexander Forsyth and Joylyn Secunda are charming performers who propel this “romantic comedy about suicide” through their excellent movement, mask and mime work with nary a word being spoken. Their characters, Irving and Rachel, are strangers and neighbours: they live in the same building across the hall from each other. There’s chemistry between the two, but neither of them act on it, preferring instead to retreat behind well-secured doors. It’s never made clear why Rachel wants to kill herself, but she attempts to do so in stylized, prop-heavy fashion — and is thwarted each time by Irving’s increasing concern for her welfare, which starts off as neighbourly but develops into much more. One caveat: although Rachel and Irving [Spoiler Alert] ultimately overcome their isolation and loneliness by finding each other, suicide is a serious, complex topic and I had difficulty reconciling the idea of romance being a way to save someone from self-harm. – MD
Some of the cast of Cry-Baby: The Musical
Tonight and tomorrow are the last two chances to the see the debut of “Self-ish” at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Starring Diana Bang and written by Kuan Foo (both of Assaulted Fish Sketch Comedy) and directed by Dawn Milman (Assaulted Fish Alumnus director).
Here’s what the reviewers say:
“Bang’s performance is dynamic and delivered everything that this part demanded.”
“Kuan Foo’s script resonates especially for Asian-Canadian audience members. When Esther’s tears finally come, Bang has no trouble digging deep, and in the intimate BMO Incubator, it’s hard not to feel those same emotions.” (4 out 5)
“…Bang, a magnetic and assured performer, inhabits Esther Jin with charismatic ease.” (B+)
Don’t miss out!
Ticket details here.
Hey Fish Fans,
If you are in Toronto be sure to catch Diana debuting her solo show “Self-ish” at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Written by Kuan and directed by Fish alumni director 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 funny too! Honest!
Here are some opening night reviews!
Seven shows left! Don’t miss out!
Rated 14A, for coarse language and violence against cardboard boxes.
Ticket details here.