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.
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
Congratulations to Assaulted Fish member, Kuan Foo, on the upcoming debut of his latest play, Blood Makes Noise! Kuan is one of seven playwrights featured in Pork Filled Productions‘ staged play reading festival, “Unleashed! New Pulp Stories for the 21st Century“, taking place in Seattle, Washington from October 30 to November 4, 2017.
About Blood Makes Noise:
It’s not quite a zombie apocalypse, more of a zombie annoyance. Across the country, a small number of corpses have mysteriously reanimated and quietly gone into hiding. But what happens when these “After-Lifers” try to step out of the shadows and join the rest of humanity? Is being dead a barrier to getting a life?
Date: Saturday, November 4, 2017
Time: 2:00 pm
Place: Theatre Off Jackson, 409 7th Avenue S in Seattle’s International District
Cost: US$6 (plus service/venue fees)
Directed by May Nguyen. Featuring performances by Virginia Marie Gabby, Rachel Guyer-Mafune, J. Edward Lee, Mario Orallo, and Michael Yichao.
Blood Makes Noise is Kuan’s second play to premiere on stage this year (making it 2 for 2 in terms of his new year resolutions.) In July, his first play Self-ish debuted at the Toronto Fringe Festival to solid reviews. Self-ish starred fellow Fish member Diana Bang with Assaulted Fish alum Dawn Milman as director.
Kuan will be in esteemed company at Unleashed: he shares an afternoon double bill with sketch comedy veteran and Pork Filled producer Roger Tang and his play, Dawn of the She-Devil of the China Sea.
About Unleashed and Pork Filled Productions:
Pork Filled Productions celebrates playwrights of color with Unleashed! New Pulp Stories for the 21st Century, a staged reading festival of seven new plays, produced in association with the Theatre Off Jackson, October 30 to November 4, 2017 at the Theatre Off Jackson (409 7th Ave. S. in Seattle’s International District).
From steamy nightclub noir, to sword and sorcery on the high seas, to imaginative science fiction exploring DNA technology and implanted memories, Unleashed helps give a voice to playwrights of color who want to break through the rigid norms and expectations of mainstream theater. With a diverse selection of Korean American, Chinese American, Chinese Canadian, and African American playwrights, Unleashed will showcase the wildly creative and outside-the-box stories that often get overlooked from writers of color.
Spinning off from the long running sketch comedy group the Pork Filled Player, Pork Filled Productions stretches the boundaries of Asian American theatre. Reflecting the imagination and creativity of modern Asian American artists, Pork Filled Products redesigns traditional Asian American theatre to embrace the full spectrum of genres, from steampunk (The Clockwork Professor and The Tumbleweed Zephyr by Maggie Lee), to supernatural comedy (Big Hunk o’ Burnin’ Love by Prince Gomolvilas), to racial identity farce (Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang), to even Kung-fu zombie Shakespeare (Living Dead in Denmark by Qui Nguyen).
Regular followers of our site will know that we are huge fans of Seattle playwright Maggie Lee. Her latest series of plays, including “The Clockwork Professor” and “The Tumbleweed Zephyr,” take place in the steampunk world of New Providence. Last week, we caught her latest, “A Hand of Talons,” and we are happy to report, it is her best one yet.
Although third in the series, “Talons” actually takes place years before the two previous instalments and tells the origin story of a character, Wilhemina Yao, who was alluded to but never actually seen in “The Tumbleweed Zephyr.” Unlike the previous plays, which were rollicking capers involving dimensional hopping and train robbery respectively, “Talons” is a smaller-scale character study that takes place entirely in one room (granted, a room with multiple entrances, both secret and not so secret). This is easily the most focussed and tonally dark of any of the New Providence plays with several characters meeting horrible fates (some of which may include death) but there is still plenty of humour and fun. The cast is uniformly strong top to bottom, but special mention must be given to Stephanie Kim-Bryan as Wilhemina who navigates the most complicated character arc of the series so far with great aplomb and to Jen Ruzumna who provides most of the comic relief as the cynical Bernadette. The direction is tight and the set and costumes instantly conjure up the alternate reality of New Providence, part-western, part-Victorian, yet strangely familiar.
“A Hand of Talons” runs for one more weekend at the Theatre Off Jackson in Seattle’s International District. For showtimes and tickets click here.
First, congratulations to Assaulted Fish’s own Marlene Dong, who just joined the board of one of Vancouver’s best up-and-coming theatre troupes, Delinquent Theatre.
Second, here’s a shameless plug for Delinquent Theatre’s latest production in the upcoming rEvolver Theatre Festival.
Created by Molly MacKinnon and Christine Quintana
Featuring Nadeem Phillip
Directed by Laura McLean
Choreographed by Kayla Dunbar
Design by Jenn Stewart, Jill White, and Laura Fukumoto
Stage Management by Danielle Bourgon
Produced by Delinquent Theatre (Vancouver, British Columbia) in association with Electric Company Theatre.
From the company that created the Jessie-Award winning Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical…
Berlin 1919: Violin prodigy and composer Sophie Carmen Friedman meets expressionist painter and war veteran Walter Gramatté. She is passionate, rude, and gifted; He is witty, emotional and compassionate. Their love affair spans 10 years, 4 cities, artistic successes and failures, and tragedy. Nearly 100 years later, the most essential record of their time together lives in her 10 violin compositions. Never The Last fuses classical music performance, movement and text to tell the story of two people in love and the space between them. How do you say what is impossible to say? And what if you run out of time?
The Cultch, 1895 Venables St, Vancouver
Venue: The Historic Theatre
Wed May 11: 9.15pm
Fri May 13: 9.15pm
Sat May 14: 3.15pm – TALKBACK
Sat May 14: 7pm
Sun May 15: 8.30pm