> Colin Thomas

Watching Gemma Wilcox perform is kind of like reading a children’s book—in which nothing much happens.

If Magical Mystery Detour were a kids’ book, the emphasis would definitely be on the illustrations. In this one-woman show, Wilcox’s central character is Sandra, but the actor transforms constantly—into Sandra’s dog, a housefly, her car, the Queen, an owl. It’s a primary-coloured world: Wilcox’s characterizations are physically crisp but never subtle.

It takes too long to establish the crisis: Sandra’s boyfriend Charlie broke up with her shortly after her mom’s death and Sandra is struggling to regain her footing. And the narrative wanders. Why does Sandra have to get stuck in traffic on her way to a holiday destination, for instance?

Still, there’s a kind of integrity in the stylistic consistency. And Magical Mystery Tour almost caught me towards the end. In a flashback, we glimpse a fight between Sandra and Charlie and we get a hint of a potentially compelling—but unfortunately untold—story.

Remaining performances at Studio 1396 on September 13 (5 p.m.), 15 (1:15 p.m.), and 16 (8:45 p.m.) 



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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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