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For our third installment of Fringe Reviews, we have the first-class articulation of a talented Vancouver creative! Architect M is, well, an architect!, and her read of the shows is extremely creative. She is also a fan of art that takes chances. Read on to get her fresh take on the Fringe…

Seven Ways to Die, a Love Story

Masked, voiceless figures battle with heartbreak and love in this quirky, charming play.

Living across the corridor from one another, our two protagonists are secretly in love.  Both hopeless romantics but at opposite ends of the spectrum: one a bumbling optimistic, the other fancying herself as a part of some poetic melodrama.  Their lives become entwined through one botched suicide attempt after another, but of course, ultimately love will prevail against despair.

The essence of silent movie slapstick, jaunty telling, and the masks’ ability to abstract human emotion, allow the performers to deal with some very harrowing subject matter with comic lightness. Whilst the storyline is predictable from the outset, there is somewhat of a comfort in knowing where we’re going, and the heartfelt humour of the characters make for an enjoyable ride.

Multiple Organism

Multiple Organism is surreal, comic and industriously creative. With just three projectors, two performers, psychedelic artwork, and accompanying music (all composed by the performers) the audience is taken on a magical journey of love, eroticism and self-investigation (yes, both metaphysical and physical, nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

It was astonishing what could be conjured with such rudimentary kit, all forgeable from your typical sepia-toned 1990’s classroom. The result was funny, charmingly gross, and truly captivating. The title and description could be tantalising or intimidating depending on your constitution, but I thought the show, although a tad risqué, was ultimately soft and loveable.

Multiple Organism was wondrously weird and I loved it.  I’ll definitely be seeking out more from the Mind of the Snail Puppet Co.

Shadowlands

A series of characters (played by one solitary performer), stitched together with disjointed chronology, take the audience through a commentary on stem cell research. The play is compellingly staged, almost entirely in the dark, with the actor wielding a diverse range of light sources.

I found the reductive use of darkness with creative light placement absorbing. The different characters were well played and entertaining, from the primordial hoity-toity cell and the frazzled scientist desperately seeking research validation, to the especially charming frenetic lab rat. As a series of vignettes these characters were very engaging, however, I left a little perplexed with what the consolidating agenda of the show was.  Stem cell research is an interesting topic for debate but I did not feel that the play gave me enough ammunition to debate with. Perhaps the production assumes that the audience would already be literate in the issues surrounding stem cell research but I was hoping to be provoked by some richer ethical fodder.  In a nutshell: Captivating characterisation with interesting staging but for me lacked substance in the agenda.

Interstellar Elder

Awoken from her cryogenic freezing aboard an earth orbiting spaceship, our hero, Kit, is charged with maintaining the spaceship’s precious cargo, the last remaining humans frozen to wait out the regeneration of earth, after an apocalyptic swiss chard event!?

With so little – limited set, virtually no dialogue, (the only narration provided by the ships matronly computer) and a single player, the piece magically sucks you in. I was 100% immersed in the kooky reality of life on this astro-freezer.   The imagining of what life could be like in this apocalyptic vision was so rich. We witness how Kit copes with her isolation and the monotony of her duties, with a healthy splattering of extraterrestrial drama to boot.  The engagement with the audience (oh yes I forgot to mention, you are the cryogenic cargo) was done with such comical flare.

Ingrid Hansen’s physical panache, the ability to portray emotional content with no words was wondrous to behold.  I was truly invested in her character to the extent that I felt generally a bit choked up when she both wins and then loses her one hope of a human comrade.  The play was not only emotionally endearing but also sharp, funny and charmingly zany. I could waffle on and on about how much I loved this play, but I should stop and go let you see it for yourself. Go on, prepare for the deep freeze, you’ll be well looked after.

Swordplay: A Play of Swords

“There once was a swash-buckling team,

Who adventured on our video screen,

To rescue the princess,

With beard wielding prowess,

They realise that love was there from 1st scene!”

Go see this show, it’s fun and you won’t have to be subjected to any more of my bad poetry.

Tickets are available for Pick Plus shows here.

 – Architect M

Fringe 2017 Reviews: Seven Ways to Die, a Love Story, Multiple Organism, Shadowlands, Interstellar Elder, Swordplay: A Play of Swords

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