Vancouver Fringe: HI, MY NAME IS JAI

publicity photo: Hi My Name is Jai

Jai Djwa spent a long time looking for his new name. 

When I heard that this autobiographical solo show was about the performer changing his first name, I thought, “So what?” But Hi, My Name is Jai is engaging for most of its 60 minutes because writer/performer Jai Djwa brings so much richness to it. Djwa’s dad was an ethnically Chinese Indonesian and his mom is a white woman from an East Coast fishing community, so naming and identity are complex for him; at one point on his quest to find a name that fits better than the one he was assigned at birth, Djwa consulted a mystic in Indonesia. In performance, he takes on the personae of folks he interviewed — including queer activist Luke Sissyfag — who changed their names with purpose. And director Raugi Yu keeps things physical, giving Djwa poses and actions. Djwa is an engaging performer, warm and confident. But the script doesn’t have a strong enough structure. There are a couple of potential narrative anchors — Djwa’s trip to Indonesia with his dad, and Djwa’s uncertain relationship with his wife — but neither is strongly developed. When the script left the story of the Indonesian trip and went on a long tangent, it lost me. But I was having a good time until then — and that was most of the show.

Vancouver Fringe Festival at Performance Works. Remaining performances: September 16 8:45, September 18 7:00 and September 19 5:15. Vancouver Fringe Festival tickets

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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