Fifty Shades of Vinyl: you can do anything to me if you make me laugh

Screen grab from Fifty Shades of Vinyl.

In Fifty Shades of Vinyl, Nico Dicecco displays his skills as both a storyteller and mimic.

The fun started when I was trying to book a ticket for this online show using my phone: voice-to-text translated Fifty Shades of Vinyl as Fifty Shades of Anal. That was just the beginning of the evening.

In Fifty Shades of Vinyl, writers Kyle Carpenter and Nico Dicecco affectionately parody Stuart McLean’s classic CBC radio program The Vinyl Café. (McLean died in 2017.)

Fifty Shades of Vinyl is the midnight version of The Vinyl Cafe: it gets sexual. You should know, though, that it never gets explicit or vulgar. And it’s not dehumanizing. Dale and Marnie, the Fifty Shades versions of McLean’s characters Dave and Morley, love one another more and more as their sex life gets kinkier.

Adding sexual frankness to the homespun humanism of The Vinyl Cafe creates a fantastically giddy tension. Dicecco, the solo actor in Fifty Shades of Vinyl, expertly mimics the gosh-darn breathlessness of McLean’s delivery. And, as writers, Dicecco and Carpenter nail McLean’s style: the gentleness, the comic crescendos of Dave/Dale’s incompetence, the lessons learned and relationships affirmed.

They also stick the hilarity of down-to-earth observations. In “The Houseguests”, the first of three stories that make up this hour-long entertainment, Marnie’s high-school friend Kelly and her husband Tony come for a visit. Dicecco explains that Dale had never really taken to Kelly: she always looked like the cat who had eaten the bird, he tells us, and “Dale couldn’t relate to a personality like that. He’d always felt more like a dog who’d eaten the tinsel.”

Again and again, I laughed out loud watching Fifty Shades of Vinyl; I haven’t had a reaction like that in a very long time. And I appreciate the show’s implicit testimony that there’s nothing wrong with playing with dominance and submission in sex — when everybody involved is into it — and that that kind of play does not preclude affection.

Bet you anything that, somewhere, Stuart McLean is laughing.

FIFTY SHADES OF VINYL: A CANADIAN PARODY by Nico Dicecco and Kyle Carpenter. Theatrical production directed by Jeff Leard. A HappySad Theatre production presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres. Available to stream until February 28. Tickets.


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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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