Vancouver Fringe: three more reviews from Colin (Friday, September 8)

Hey kids!

Here are three more reviews for you. Top picks so far: Six Fine Lines, Hyena Subpoena, and Brain Machine.

I will keep posting until Tuesday at least, so keep comin’ by!

 

Brain Machine is at the Vancouver Fringe.

Andrew Bailey gets philosophical about the Internet in Brain Machine.

BRAIN MACHINE

 Looking for a Fringe show that uses the word hagiography? Bingo.

In Brain Machine, solo artist Andrew Bailey explores connections and opportunities—mostly missed. Its historical thread is about the Internet: its potential and its degradation. Its more personal thread is about Bailey’s relationships and work.

There’s substantial material here. Bailey expresses his anger at feminists who diminish the suffering of men, including the suffering caused by being sexually assaulted. (“Twenty years later, on a bad day, sometimes I still shake.”)

And a lot of the show is very funny. Bailey is a master of reversal: “When I was 17, I felt disconnected and alone…unlike other 17-year-olds.” And he gets a laugh out of hagiography.

Bailey is confident, charming, a pro. This is the premiere of Brain Machine. Go see it. 

At Arts Umbrella. Remaining performances on September 8 (8 p.m.), 9 (4:30 p.m.), 10 (1 p.m.), 10 (8 p.m.), 11 (9:45 p.m.), 13 (6:15 p.m.), 14 (8 p.m.), 15 (9:45 p.m.), and 17 (6:15 p.m.)

 

Chris and Travis are at the Vancouver Fringe.

Is Chris Ross trying to screw Travis Bernhardt’s head off? Quite possibly.

CHRIS AND TRAVIS

On opening night of the Vancouver Fringe, a Mylar balloon hit a transformer on Granville Island and knocked out the power to three venues, including the Carousel space, but intrepid improvisers Chris Ross and Travis Bernhardt did their show, Chris and Travis, outdoors—lit by the flashlights on audience members’ cellphones. Massive points for that.

During the show, they speak gibberish. Ross is better at it: his speech sounds vaguely Italian, but he knows how to insert English phrases to get laughs; Bernhardt often sounds more like he’s mumbling. As an improviser, Bernhardt is less flexible than Ross, but they’re both good.

On opening night, the best bit involved a couple of old men viewing the body of a dead friend: it had a satisfying story arc. Surreal moment: crows flying out of a cranium. Other passages: hit and miss.

At Carousel Theatre. Remaining performances on September 8 (6 p.m.), 9 (10:30 p.m.), 10 (1 p.m.). 12 (6 p.m.), 15 (8 p.m.), 16 (3 p.m.), and 17 (6:45 p.m.)

 

Almost a Stepmom is at the Vancouver Fringe.

Keara Barnes brings warmth and clear physicality to Almost a Stepmom.

ALMOST A STEPMOM

Almost a Stepmom ticks a lot of boxes. Writer and performer Keara Barnes tells a high-stakes story that’s drawn from her life. It’s about how she went to Ireland and fell in love with a man named Joe—and his six-year-old daughter, Aiofe. But, in the play, Joe’s ex is a hellish neurotic bent on destroying Barnes’s relationships with her new family—especially Aiofe.

Barnes’s bold physical choices make her characterizations clear. And there’s sweet intimacy in the script’s humour: When Joe asks Aiofe how much he loves her, she sighs, “A hundred times more than Manchester United,” and pretends to be bored with the question—except she’s not.

But Barnes’s character makes little effort, takes little responsibility, and acquires little insight. Stories aren’t just about what happens next; they’re about what the events mean.

At Arts Umbrella. Remaining performances on September 9 (1 p.m.), 9 (8 p.m.), 10 (4:30 p.m.), 11 (6:15 p.m.), 12 (8 p.m.), 13 (9:45 p.m.), 15 (6:15 p.m.), 16 (8 pm.), and 17 (9:45 p.m.)

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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