September 14 Fringe reviews from Colin: Executing Justice, and Let Me Freeze Your Head

Here you go: my final reviews, Executing Justice and Let Me Freeze Your Head—critiques 28 and 29—from this year’s Vancouver Fringe.

Neither review is enthusiastic, but…there are a lot of excellent shows at the festival.

Go see Paul Strickland's Ain't True and Uncle False at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Solo performer Paul Strickland (Ain’t True and Uncle False) is loving Vancouver audiences. It’s mutual.

Of the performances I’ve been to, the three must-sees are: Multiple Organism, Ain’t True and Uncle False, and Six Fine Lines. (The hyperlinks I’ve just created will lead you to those reviews. Sometimes, you’ll have to hit the “Read more” button.)

I also strongly support Brain Machine (established talent Andrew Bailey) and A Night at the Rose Coloured Discotheque (fresh talent Arggy Jenati and Dylan Archambault). I had a great time giving myself over to androgynous spoken-word artist Cat Kidd at Hyena Subpoena. And especially if you have child companions, Beaver Dreams, and The Birdmann and Egg: Birdhouse are both a blast.

One more weekend! Get out there!

 

Executing Justice is playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

As an actor, Bill Pats digs deep in his self-penned Executing Justice.

EXECUTING JUSTICE 

On the one hand, solo artist Bill Pats is impressively honest: emotionally, he throws himself into his show. On the other hand, he cheats: his script is a set-up.

In Executing Justice, Pats charts the downfall of a character called Daryl Kane. It’s 2030 and Kane is about to become the first person executed in Canada since 1962. We meet him in the last hour of his life.

Pats plays other characters, too, including an officer from Alabama who is a death-row expert. This character works because he’s surprising. His attitude doesn’t match his stereotypical drawl: the humanity of his doomed charges tears him apart.

Pats’s portrait of Kane explains away his murder of a police officer too simplistically, however. Kane is never really responsible for his actions; he’s just the victim of a series of unlucky breaks. Pats even argues that the policeman’s wife is better off without him.

I don’t believe in retribution, but I do believe in nuance.

Remaining performances at the Revue Stage on September 16 (9:15 p.m.) and 17 (4:30 p.m.)

  

Neil McArthur is presenting Let Me Freeze Your Head at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Salesman Neil with a dead—well, suspended—friend in Let Me Freeze Your Head.

LET ME FREEZE YOUR HEAD

The script doesn’t work and neither does the performance.

In Let Me Freeze Your Head, real-life philosophy professor Neil McArthur, plays Neil, a guy who’s selling immortality via a system called cryonics: in the moments before your brain dies, his company will freeze your head, then thaw it out and attach it to a bionic body—just as soon as they figure out how to do that.

McArthur doesn’t exploit the energy of the pitch format, though. Instead, he has Neil tell three stories about people related to the project, including Angelika, who founded the company. The first two stories sag because they don’t have any present-time stakes. The third works better because it affects Neil more directly; it’s about a former girlfriend who’s been trying to get back in touch. Still, there’s too much gabbing and not enough dramatic development.

McArthur doesn’t have a lot of acting chops: his voice is caught in nasality and he wanders about the stage.

He does get in a couple of good lines, though, including, “Jealousy is spiritual capitalism: it only knows how to possess or destroy.”

Remaining performances at the Waterfront Theatre on September 15 (5 p.m.) and 16 (6 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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