Twisting Fortunes

Dates 6 - 9 February 2007 @ 8pm Venue The Playwrights Theatre, Granville Island

Reviewer Erin Jane

A self-professed “accidentally Asian romantic dramedy”, Twisting Fortunes is a fast-paced dialogue-rich play that kept me engaged from start to finish. A collaborative effort by Charlie Cho (part time CBC producer and writer) and Grace Chin (VACT, CBC and Vancouver Fringe).

Twisting Fortunes is clearly somewhat autobiographical, though Charlie Cho seems reluctant to admit it. Ray, an eager young reporter (played by Zen Shane Lim) and Jessica, a flirtatious young actress (played by co-writer Grace Chin) meet in downtown Vancouver and from then on, the two share sometimes brief but always very dynamic encounters in the weeks and months ahead.

The simple set design supported the play well. On one side, were a small café-style table with two chairs, on the other, were a simple couch with a couple of throw-cushions and a coffee table. In the background, a large screen with different projected stills placed the scene. The photo backdrop was an interesting way to change the scene, though I didn’t fully appreciate its value until the very end, when they backtrack through the photographs to travel back in time to the first photograph from the beginning.

If you’re looking for a play filled with action scenes or physical comedy, this may not be for you. It was an emotional workout, after which I felt almost exhausted from the heavy-duty discourse and awkward moments shared by the two characters. More than just friends but not quite romantic companions, each meeting would become more and more awkward with little comedic relief, until finally the tension from their mutual attraction virtually explodes into a passionate kiss but nothing more. Their unresolved affections made me somewhat anxious in the same way watching one of those rare films where the two love-hopefuls fail to get it on. You know the ones I mean.

Chin and Lim portray such strong characters with so much personality that each awkward moment makes you want to cover your eyes. I found myself wondering whether I might just get up from my chair and proceed down through the seats and onto the stage to try and sort out the ineptitude of the pair. “Can’t you see he loves you? And you – good grief, just make your move already!”

Yes, even as Cho himself wrote, there’s nothing new about this romantic dramedy. In fact, you’re certain to recognize some of the circumstances, and yet Twisting Fortunes has enough quirks and awkward moments to keep it interesting.

© 2007 Erin Jane