The Orbweaver casts its spell at the Vancouver Fringe (2016)

The Orbweaver is so good that having seen it makes me feel better about being alive. Seriously. It’s fantastic.

Written and directed by Paula Zelaya Cervantes, The Orbweaver tells the magical realist story of Elena and Quiron, starting when they’re kids. Quiron has the unfortunate job of being Death’s chauffeur. He meets Elena when Death comes for her father. Although their relationship is understandably bumpy at first, they fall in love—but soon realize that they can only see one another when somebody dies. So they start murdering people in the village.

All of this is told with enormous humour and poetry. Much of the humour arises from juxtaposition—including bumping fairytale realities up against modern sensibilities. When Quiron finds Elena locked in a freezing cellar by her cruel stepmother, he asks, in modern phrasing—and with modern discomfort—”Were you, like, crying?”

The staging, which includes shadow puppetry, feels like folk art. The main characters’ pauper costumes are gorgeously detailed. Playing Elena and Quiron, Ana González Bello and Evan Regueira, win laughs with their subtlety—and they are, not incidentally, gorgeous. As Death, Marcos Radish remains hooded, but he moves like a dancer and he finds his own humour.

Near the end of the play, there is a a little hymn to theatre that made me weep.

The Orbweaver is one of the very, very best at this year’s Fringe.

There’s one more performance this Sunday at 7:00.

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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