Anvil Centre
Tales of an Urban Indian written & performed by: Darrell Dennis

Date and Venue February 9th 7:30pm; one night only | Anvil Centre

Reviewer Erin Jane

Tales of an Urban Indian is a darkly comic semi-autobiographical story of Simon Douglas, a self-proclaimed “Urban Indian” who grew up partly on a reserve in British Columbia and partly in East Vancouver, who states early on that he “likes cement and gets lost in the woods.” Written and performed by acclaimed Canadian actor/comedian Darrell Dennis, this one-man-show captivates throughout its entire 90 minutes.

Dennis’s writing may not be viewed by all as entirely politically correct, but he treats his subject matter with thoughtful affection and raw openness. Touching upon stories of abuse, suicide, drugs and alcohol, with humourous interjections (describing East Van as a “big bowl of granola: filled with nuts, fruits, and flakes”), Dennis weaves a rich tapestry of stories that jump from very poignant to hilarious. Highlights include an impression of Simon’s first DTES apartment pet cockroach, Fluffy, who angrily reproaches him for shirking his responsibilities, and a fictional conversation with God who has a thick Hebrew accent.

This very funny, very physical performance is a whirlwind of stories and imagery, accents and impassioned speeches. Dennis’s emotional and physical energy is palpable in this role, and his ability to mimic various accents and deliver impressions is undeniable. It’s no surprise that Tales of an Urban Indian has been nominated for two Dora Awards (Best Original Play and Best Performance by an Actor).

For those who missed this one-night-only performance, the highly rated film adaptation was released back in 2009 starring Dennis himself along with Graham Greene and Carmen Moore, and was accepted into the prestigious Sundance Screenwriters Lab. However, I recommend seeing this unique show performed live if only to see Dennis’s incredible stamina on stage first hand.

© 2019 Erin Jane