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Strangers on a Train

Hey Fish Fans:

This Tuesday, Marlene’s doing a reading as part of the “Strangers on a Train” reading series put on by the English Department at Langara College. Admission is free, all are welcome.

Where: The Kino (3456 Cambie St.)

When: Tuesday, October 25 at 7:00 pm

Promo Thx: Deborah So | Photo of Marlene Thx: Jennifer Oehler

1410-0356-RS Arts-HUM-ENGL-Poster Oct_Draft_low-res.jpgPromo Thx: Deborah So | Photo of Marlene Thx: Jennifer Oehler

Violent Shadow Puppet Hippos: The Assaulted Fish 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival Preview

Give It Up – Inspiring words from Morgan Brayton

It’s September, so once again it’s time to enact the yearly ritual of opening up the Vancouver Fringe Festival Guide and yelling, “So many puppet shows! How do I choose?!”

Fear not, the taller half of Assaulted Fish (Marlene and Kuan) has put together a Fringe preview with something for every type of Fringer. The first two shows we consider sure bets. The rest is stuff that looks intriguing or is buzzworthy or has puppets. Three suggestions: take a moment to hear artist pitches when you’re waiting in line, make the effort to support great performances at BYOVs across the city, and ask a Fringe volunteer for show recommendations if you’re stuck for options. Don’t be afraid to try something new. That’s what the Fringe is all about! (A shorter, slightly more polite, version of this preview was published at District Local.)

Give It Up (Morgan Brayton, 14+)

The last time I caught the magnificent Morgan Brayton on stage was in 2010 at her Vancouver Fringe solo show, “Raccoonery”. That’s way too long between hits of comedy gold like hers, but truth be told, I needed that much time to heal my busted gut. I don’t expect “Give It Up” to be any less than funny or brilliant. Ms. Brayton is an outstanding comedienne who has been a champion of sketch comedy and budding sketch comedians in Vancouver for well over a decade. You don’t get to be the god-lady of comedy without knowing a thing or two about constructing an award-winning show. Expect memorable, well-drawn characters; sharp, witty commentary; and stories that’ll make you laugh, cry, or go WTF? (I’ll be asking her about her “husband Scott Baio”.) Go see her show; you’ll have a gut-busting good time. – MD

­­Love is a Battlefield (Martin Dockery, 14+)

My first experience with Martin Dockery was at the 2013 Fringe and oddly enough not at his own show. That year, I went down to support a friend who was doing a show that involved getting audience volunteers to represent the planets in the solar system. A thin, caffeinated man bounded onto stage, grabbed the golf ball that was representing Mercury, took a split second to register just how tiny it was, then with perfect comic defiance brandished it aloft as though it were Excalibur. This was my first taste of Martin Dockery the performer: hilarious, charismatic and just a little hyperactive. I’ve subsequently seen three of his shows – two comedic monologues, “Up In Flames” and “The Exclusion Zone”, and the exquisite romantic two-hander “Moonlight After Midnight” (my favourite Fringe show of 2014) – and can attest that Martin Dockery the writer is no slouch either, creating multi-layered, sneakily-smart theatre pieces that can be nose-snortingly funny, but also surprisingly emotional. This year, he returns with “Love is a Battlefield”, another two-hander performed with his artistic and life partner Vanessa Quesnelle. My personal must-see show this year. – KF

Bella Culpa (A Little Bit Off, All Ages)

At a time when “clowns” are associated with traumatic birthday parties and “slapstick” means YouTube videos of men getting hit in the penis, it hard to remember that clowning, acrobatics and physical comedy were once the staples of entertainment and were practiced creatively and artistically. That tradition is alive and well with A Little Bit Off, an award-winning physical theatre troupe from Portland, Oregon, whose latest show “Bella Culpa” follows two servants as they bumble about an Edwardian manor house attempting to do their chores. How much you enjoy this will likely depend on how much you like physical comedy but personally I think that the last few seasons of Downton Abbey would have profited from a few more pratfalls. Warning: The online previews hinted at audience participation so don’t sit too close if you’re a massive introvert like our neighbour Ann, who spent one show with her head almost in her lap trying to avoid the performer seeking a volunteer. – KF

Curious Contagious (Mind of a Snail Puppet Co., All Ages)

Remember the days when every class had an overhead projector and if you were bored and the teacher wasn’t looking, you used do shadow puppet shows? Well, apparently it is possible to pursue an artistic career doing this, although I’m pretty sure what Mind of a Snail does is a little more creative than the shadow bunny-ears I used to cast in grade 12 Algebra. Critics have called their shows “fantastical” and “unique”. I personally have not had the opportunity to see them yet, but they approached me during a Fringe line-up a few years back and gave a really charming and inventive show pitch involving miniature shadow puppets, which made me very curious (but not contagious). – KF

Fat Sex (Steve Larkin, 14+)

Steve Larkin is a British slam poet, musician and educator, who has taught poetry in venues as diverse as Oxford Brookes University and a high security prison. I caught Larkin the last time he was in Vancouver with N.O.N.C.E., a show based on his experiences teaching poetry to lifers. N.O.N.C.E. was intense, witty, political, acerbic and, considering the subject matter, strangely uplifting. “Fat Sex” promises more of the same, serving up a retrospective of Larkin’s poems and songs over the last 20 years. – KF

Hip, Bang! Improv (Hip, Bang!, 14+)

Very polished local sketch and improv duo. I’ve only had the chance to see them once or twice, but was impressed with the wit and complexity of their sketches. Super funny, too! – KF

New Works by Women (Playwrights: Carmen Aguirre, Jenn Griffin, Janet Hinton, Frances Koncan, Quelemia Sparrow, Directors: Kim Harvey, Laura McLean, Christine Quintana, Anita Rochon, Heidi Taylor, 14+)

In partnership with Ruby Slippers Theatre and Equity in Theatre, the Fringe is presenting a showcase of dramatic readings by five Canadian women playwrights, directed by five diverse Canadian women. The readings take place midday, but if you can, go support women doing interesting, meaningful, important work in theatre. – MD

Space Hippo (The Wishes Mystical Puppet Company, 14+)

“Space Hippo” has been wowing audiences on the Fringe circuit this year and just won “Pick of the Fringe” at the Victoria Fringe. The Wishes Mystical Puppet Company is a trans-Pacific collaboration between Canadian Daniel Wishes and Japanese puppeteer Seri Yanai and they employ a blend of shadow puppetry, marionettes, rod puppets and glove puppets to tell the story of a hippo who has to venture into space to save the earth. Warning: Despite its whimsical premise, this show is rated 14+ and does have a violence warning, and if violent shadow puppet hippos trigger you, consider yourself forewarned. – KF

The Old Woman (John Grady, 14+)

There’s a plethora of puppet-based Fringe shows this year, so if you’re looking for something different, how about drama and dance? John Grady is a former Ballet BC dancer who has performed Off-Broadway and garnered awards from across the Fringe circuit. I’ve never seen John Grady in action before, but the show description for “The Old Woman” spoke to me. I’ve lost loved ones in recent years and examined what it means to live, age, and die. I anticipate a heart-rending story told through the beauty of movement and dance. – MD

The Nether (Redcurrant Collective, 18+)

When I visited London in 2015, I just missed this Jennifer Haley play, which enjoyed a 12-week remount at the Duke of York’s Theatre after a sold-out run at the renowned Royal Court Theatre. It was billed as a sci-fi crime thriller, a kind of cautionary tale about the internet and digital world. Imagine my delight when I learned that there would be a Vancouver premiere, directed by actor/playwright Chris Lam and featuring a diverse cast and crew, including Lissa Neptuno. (Full disclosure: Chris and Lissa are former members of Assaulted Fish.) – MD

Zeppelin Was a Cover Band (Stadium Tour, 14+)

I know very little about Led Zeppelin – except that Canadian figure skater, Kurt Browning, performed a riveting short program to Bonzo’s Montreux in 1993. Random? Yes. Which is why I’m looking to be edumacated by playwrights, Stefan Cedilot and Ben Kalman, as they trace the origin story of the blues through the music of Led Zeppelin. Trippy! – MD

 Love is a Battlefield – Martin Dockery desperately tries to avoid thinking of Pat Benatar

 

A Hand of Talons

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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.

 

 

Delinquent Love

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.

NEVER THE LAST

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

75 Minutes

Showtimes:
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