September 11: six fresh reviews from Deneh’Cho Thompson

Despite the byline above, which I can’t figure out how to remove, these reviews are by Deneh’Cho Thompson. – CT

Katharine Ferns is in Stitches is playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Katharine Ferns does stand-up right: with elegance, simplicity—and depth.

KATHARINE FERNS IS IN STITCHES

It feels like Ferns and I have been best friends for years—and we have never met.

Katharine Ferns is in Stiches, an autobiographical stand-up show, is one of the most open and honest stories I have ever heard told—on-stage or off. Ferns covers a pile of dark topics, from domestic abuse to pedophilia. But it’s not all dark: “There are also jokes about kittens and cocaine. Something for everyone!”

Early in the show Ferns tells us, “I wanted to be perfect for everyone.” Then she explores the messed-up stuff that can happen to us when we strive to achieve perfection. This is a story of resilience, survival, and that all-too-human struggle to love oneself.

I have trouble with stand-up as a form, but this is how it is done right. Katharine Ferns in Stitches is very personal and it’s elegant in its simplicity. And what a journey! Even with all the truly awful things that Ferns has experienced, she ends the show with a beautiful transformation: “I don’t want to be angry anymore. I want to forgive myself for not being perfect.” 

Remaining shows at Studio 16 on September 10 (7:05 p.m.), 13 (5:20 p.m.), 16 (8:20 p.m.), and 17 (3:50 p.m.) [Read more…]

VANCOUVER GREENROOM 6: Twelve Vancouver Fringe reviews (from Victoria)

I’ve already seen 12 Vancouver Fringe shows. That’s not because I can time travel—the Vancouver Fringe opens tomorrow, September 7, and runs until the 17th— it’s because I know how to buy a ferry ticket. I sailed across the Georgia Strait to see the dozen shows that are travelling from the Victoria Fringe to Vancouver.

It’s a good year. I especially enjoyed the top four in the list below—I urge you to see Vancouver artist Mack Gordon’s heart-opening Six Fine Lines; if anybody asks you what a Fringe show should look like, this is it—and the top nine all have things to recommend them.

Mack Gordon is presenting Six Fine Lines at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Mack Gordon opens his heart—with skill—in Six Fine Lines. I defy you not to love this show.

SIX FINE LINES

Yes! An artist is flying.

Mack Gordon’s solo show, Six Fine Lines is as openhearted as it is intelligent, innovative and unpretentious.

In Six Fine Lines, Gordon explores a breakup—somebody else’s, apparently. The difficulty of knowing one another—“Language is all we have to connect us, and it doesn’t. Not quite”—slides into the slipperiness of knowing anything. As Gordon’s on-stage alter ego describes his friend Sarah, whose marriage has collapsed, he acknowledges that we will all form our own ideas of her: “I want her to be real. But she doesn’t have to be constant.”

Each of the play’s four chapters contains six elements: a quote, definition, short story, challenge, poem, and gift. The poems, including one that mentions bandages under change-room benches, are humble but concrete. The stories are faceted with ambiguity. The challenges, including a game of Family Feud played with the audience, are pure hilarity.

And the whole bloody show is a gift. “We all have different things we do to hold our tenderness tight in public”, Gordon says. In Six Fine Lines, he loosens his grip.

At Carousel Theatre on September 8 (10:45 p.m.), 9 (3 p.m.), 10 (7:45 p.m.), 11 (6 p.m.), 13 (10:45 p.m.), 14 (8:00 p.m.), 16 (10:30 p.m.). and 17 (4 p.m.)  [Read more…]