Last year’s low vision Fringe consultant, Deb Fong, returns as VocalEye’s KickAss Reviewer for the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival. She’s attending as many shows as she can with her KickAss Pass and her reviews will be posted here as they come in…
Reviews of shows on our Low-Vision Friendly list:
And Bella Sang With Us at the Cultch Lab, 1895 Venables Street near Victoria Drive
My blind companion and I really enjoyed this show about the first female police officers in Vancouver. Set in 1912, the women encounter vice and corruption on the streets and sexism in the office. A dramatic tale told with humour, the production features live honky-tonk piano music and terrific performances. –SK, sighted guest
Carry On: A Musical at the Firehall Theatre, 280 E Cordova Street
At first, I wondered how entertaining could a play about a group of passengers waiting for their luggage be? But I was more than pleasantly surprised! The talented cast of Carry On were outstanding. And the story develops as we learn the personalities of each quirky character. My favorite song was “You’re a Scum Bag” sang to the tune of a romantic ballad. This show was described by VocalEye, which made enjoying the production even easier.
Firehall Theatre is not very accessible because there are many stairs going in all directions. A guide is recommended (Front of House can guide patrons who cannot use the stairs into the theatre and to the washrooms via an alternate route, just ask for assistance). The staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and received priority seating. -DF
Get Lost Jem Rolls at the Revue Theatre on Granville Island
This show was an entertaining, fast-paced, spoken-word performance following the adventures of Jem Rolls as he travels off-the-beaten-path around the world. He glorifies the fun and excitement of just getting lost in exotic places, instead of sticking to any set plan.
The Revue Theatre was fairly accessible with well marked stairs. The stage is a half-circle with seats curving around it. The staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and got priority seating. -DF
Sink or Swim at the Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway near Commercial Drive
There is a film playing continuously on the big screen behind the performer (Beverly Elliot), which I couldn’t see (these are Bev’s home movies that illustrate much of what she is already telling us in her stories). Beverly Elliott is amazing though, and her singing and story-telling makes the show is easy to understand without the background visuals. Her stories were funny and sentimental and had most of the audience reminiscing about their own family life. -DF
Beverly Elliot is an accomplished singer, songwriter and performer who regales us with tales of her childhood education in a one-room schoolhouse and how she got the nickname “Smelly Elliot”. Funny, endearing and interspersed with some great original songs. The Rio is one of our favourite venues. The front row had plenty of room for my companion’s guide dog, the seats are comfy and the snack bar serves a killer grilled cheese! –SK, sighted guest
William vs the World at the Arts Umbrella on Granville Island
The performer tells the story of his sad life, his comic book heros and his cactus Chuck. The show was funny and easy to follow. Arts Umbrella is a small, accessible venue, only holds about 30 patrons, so feels a bit cramped (front row is probably best option). Staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and received priority seating. -DF
Shows not on the LVF list that we couldn’t resist:
2 for Tea at the Firehall Theatre
This show was not on the LVF list, but it’s my favorite show so far. James and Jamesy are true masters of their craft. There were some subtle, absurd gestures and actions that I missed, but my sighted companion described them to me. Jamesy moves about like a graceful crane, and James created a beautifully-mimed scene of a man with an umbrella on a very blustery day. Their conversations are both ridiculous and endearing.
Audience participation was key. Patrons were selected to don costumes and wigs and portray family members on stage. The entire audience stood up to do the YMCA dance and howled like ambulances. This show was a lot of fun and is highly recommended.
The Firehall Theatre is not very accessible because there are many steps. The staff were super tho, informing me how many steps were ahead and saying I was getting priority seating, even before I asked. Staff also offered me coffee, water and a chair. -DF
2 Ruby Knockers & One Jaded Dick at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island
This one-man show was not on the LVF list, but was fairly easy to understand. Some of the props had to be described to me by my companion, but the performer had a hilarious and fast-paced rapport with the audience. He selected a couple of patrons and they became key characters in the show. He also performed magic tricks and sang. This was an enjoyable and entertaining show. Staff were accommodating and we received priority seating. -DF
Ballad of Frank Allen at the Revue Theatre on Granville Island
My sighted companion had to clue me in on some actions, but most of the show was easy to follow, as it was primarily dialogue and a few ridiculous and bawdy songs. As the audience enters, a janitor sweeps the aisles, looking disgruntled as the patrons walk around him. He turns out to be the janitor in the play, who becomes miniaturized during a science experiment and finds himself in the beard of Al, an everyday guy. The story follows the friendship that develops between the strange pair.
The Revue Theatre was fairly accessible with well marked stairs. The stage was a half-circle with seats curving around it. The staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and got priority seating. -DF
Charlatan at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island
Mainly, the performer tries to read the minds of his audience and often he succeeds. Most of the performance was easy to follow, except at one point, he brought audience members onstage and a few of their movements and a small prop were not easy to recognize.
The aisles of the Waterfront Theatre have uneven steps with unmarked edges, which can be challenging to navigate. Staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and received priority seating. -DF
Falling Awake at The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street
This show was not on the LVF list and it wasn’t easy to follow as there was hardly any dialogue, just singing, wailing and snoring. The show was physical comedy and the woman’s voice had an impressive range. The stage wasn’t well-lit, so it was difficult to see what was going on. My companion had to describe some actions to me.
The main level of the Cultch is fairly accessible. Staff were friendly and accommodating and we arrived early and received priority seating. -DF
Great Day for Up at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island
The show was poetic, dark and conceptual and the stage was stark with the action taking place between two ladders. The performer used word play throughout his dialogue. There were some motions and props that were not easy to see, but that didn’t prevent an understanding of the story. Staff were friendly and accommodating. We arrived early and received priority seating. -DF
The Jupiter Rebellion at Studio 1398 on Granville Island
This show is totally accessible and totally hilarious! Jeff Leard is brilliant in his one-man show, portraying half-a-dozen, zany characters in this fast-paced, sci-fi comedy. He zooms in and out between his characters and himself as the show’s playwright, providing audio descriptions of camera angles and special effects and mimicking the soundtrack. This off-beat, space adventure is well worth seeing!
Studio 1398 is on the 3rd floor and is accessed by elevator. The staff were friendly and accommodating and we received priority seating. -DF
‘Til Death: the Six Wives of Henry VIII at the Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway near Commercial Drive
This show was enjoyable and easy to understand without description. The talented, female performer played all of Henry’s wives and Henry as well. She masterfully changed her voice, body posture and stage position so the character she was portraying was recognizable. There were some subtle gestures, like facial expressions and juggling Anne Boleyn’s head, that may be missed, but the story is easy to follow regardless. The show was funny and entertaining and I would recommend it.
This revamped, old theatre is easily accessible. Slanted aisles, no steps. Comfy, cushioned seats with headrests. There is a balcony section, but it was not open. The staff were friendly and helpful. We arrived early and were given priority seating. -DF
War and Peace at Carousel Theatre on Granville Island
This show is written by the same guy who wrote ‘Til Death. He plays a few dozen characters and somehow manages to summarize a 1,400+ page novel in one hour, inserting some fun footnotes about Tolstoy along the way. Delightful! Makes me want to read one of Tolstoy’s (perhaps shorter) works. –SK, sighted guest
Wild / Society at the Revue Theatre on Granville Island
This show was not on the LVF list. The two women wore animal costumes and talked about eco-density, bulldozing forests for townhouses and global warming. Some gestures and movements were not easy for me to see. The staff were accommodating and we received priority seating. -DF
More reviews and info: The Georgia Straight’s Guide to the Fringe Festival | Jo Ledingham | Vancouver Presents | Plank Magazine