Taking in Ruby Rocket Returns! is a pleasantly giddy experience—like binge-watching goofy reruns on a rainy afternoon.

Portland theatre artist Stacey Hallal plays Ruby Rocket, the private dick at the centre of this improvised film noir parody. For every show, Hallal invites a different trio of local improvisers to join her. That’s unbelievably risky. At the performance I attended, it mostly paid off.

Hallal scores some wittily Chandler-esque lines: “The streets looked like they’d been cryin’ all day”; “We haven’t even begun to make the memories we’ll eventually drink to forget.”

The noir pacing can feel sluggish at times, but the production elements—including moody piano accompaniment and black-and-white “movie” projections of the stage action—are cool. And Hallal’s presence—her sharp skills and loose playfulness—set an amiable tone.

Bonus: Ruby Rocketis very queer-friendly.

Remaining performances at the Waterfront Theatre on September 10 (8:10 p.m.), 11 (9 p.m.), 14 (8:55 p.m.), and 15 (2:40 p.m.) > Colin Thomas



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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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