JASPER IN DEADLAND

This glorious musical retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice explodes out of the starting gate—and almost self-destructs on its high-octane ambitions.

Jasper loves Agnes. Agnes dives off a cliff. Jasper follows her into the underworld. Divine shenanigans ensue.

The production is snappy and inventive in its manipulation of fabric and crates. The actors are winning and likable. And the choice to cast Jasper as a woman (Merewyn Comeau) injects an understated and appreciated queerness. Awkward Stage Productions confidently sails this musical down hell’s river.

Then the tech nearly sinks it. The lighting (especially early on) is unforgivably patchy. And the sound design is wretched: the five-piece band routinely overpowers the singers, and Ryan Scott Oliver’s clever lyrics are often garbled in the mix. Because they’re the only performers whose mics are reliably balanced, corporate villainess Mrs. Lethe (Natalie Backerman) and tour guide Gretchen (Lucia Forward) very nearly steal the show.

Transferred to a better theatre with a professional sound technician, Jasper in Deadlandwould be unstoppable. At present? It’s still worthwhile. But clean your ears first.

Remaining performances at the Firehall Arts Centre on September 8 (6 p.m.), 9 (3:15 p.m.), 12 (8:45 p.m.), 13 (5:30 p.m.), 14 (9 p.m.), 15 (4 p.m.), 16 (6:30 p.m.) > David Johnston

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This is a guest review.

David Johnston is a Vancouver-based actor, aerialist, and writer, not in that order. He recently hailed from the Edmonton Fringe, where he saw many excellent shows and also ate a green onion cake. The green onion cake got three-and-a-half stars. David is a recent graduate of Studio 58, and is currently writing a script about reviews, so this should be a rather meta experience. He’s delighted to join FRESH SHEET for the Vancouver Fringe.

 

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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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