On Thursday, Francesca Smith-Jones* and I saw SHOSHINZ presents: A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup at the Victoria Fringe Festival’s Venue 4. It was so good, that I would recommend you see it too — except its last performance was last night, and I haven’t had time to blog since I saw it. However, better late than never to praise an excellent production. A good indication of this show’s comedic power is that my face hurt from smiling and laughing when I came out of the theatre. Without using words, this one-woman/clown show created her theatrical world using both self-produced and recorded sounds, mixing them to great comedic effect. Her movements, costuming and lighting were also perfect. I’m disappointed I won’t have the opportunity to see it again, although you can see it at the Vancouver Fringe September 9-19, if you’re in Vancouver then.
Francesca* and I also saw Gunpowder last night, at Venue 11 (St. Ann’s). Last night was also this show’s final performance, so I’m sorry to report that you won’t be able to see it here either. It was a fantastically funny performance by a truly talented actor, who combined witty dialogue, mime, frequent changes of character and excellent lighting to create a performance that reminded me of Hamlet. It’s a murder mystery — Jayson McDonald, the actor, plays Tom Pfox, the detective investigating the murder of Jayson McDonald, the actor directed by the unrelated Jayson McDonald, in a play written by Jayson McDonald (unrelated). Elements reminiscent of Hamlet include:
- That it is a murder mystery involving a young character trying to discover who killed a father figure, and that many of the suspects are characters who resemble usurping father figures.
- That it stresses its own meta-theatricality in every scene.
- That the main character spoke several soliloquies questioning his own role and person-hood.
- That there are many self-conscious references to other Shakespeare plays.
- That the final scene involves a battle in which all or most of the characters are “killed,” although Jayson does seem to live on through another soliloquy.
I think it was a brilliant theatrical device to retell Hamlet in a humourous manner. Doing so allows audiences to think about the boundaries between comedy and tragedy, and consider whether they’re closer in real life than we usually like to think. (It reminds me of Walpole’s remark that “This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.”) It was also a really funny play to see performed, with the audience laughing almost throughout. So for both literary and theatrical reasons, this was a great performance.
Today, Francesca* and I are planning to see Psycho Bitch at 5:15 at Venue 3 and Lucky 9 at 7:00 at Venue 12. We’re also thinking about going to Fringe Club for 9:30 for “Closing Party, Volunteer Shout-out and Pick of the Fringe Awards.”
*Not her real name.