The Adventures of Bertolt

Venue Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

Reviewer Heidi Hoff

In the car on our way to the Waterfront Theatre to see The Adventures of Bertolt, my daughters asked what to expect. I told them that Bertolt is an interactive one man show about an explorer who searches for his golden hankie. My husband mentioned that one way to not be pulled up on stage if you were feeling a bit shy would be not to make eye contact with the performer. Well, it didn’t work for him. Within the first few minutes of the show, my husband found himself on stage playing a troll, complete with balloon horns and a fake warty nose.

Jay Cormier travels the country entertaining young and old alike with The Adventures of Bertolt. Part storyteller, part magician, Cormier relies on audience members to bring his collection of characters to life. The role of the princess was played by an initially enthusiastic five-year-old, until a case of stage fright set in. Not a problem for Cormier, who quickly improvised and assumed the role himself and carried on the scene with my husband, er, I mean the troll. Other audience members were commandeered to play a fairy, a wizard and Bertolt’s assistant explorer, all of whom were on a search for the golden hankie which the troll had hidden.

The performance ran under 30 minutes, which is a perfect length for the short attention-span younger set. The material was entertaining, even containing some requisite potty humour. The story was peppered with magic tricks and a hilariously frustrating scene where Bertolt was attempting to cross an imaginary canyon which was really a rope tied to chairs at opposite ends of the stage.

While I heard comments that Bertolt’s appearance was initially a bit scary due to dark lips and eyebrows, it wasn’t an issue by the time the performance was over.

The Adventures of Bertolt is engaging and funny, and if you’ve ever wanted to give acting a try, catch the show next time it comes to your town.

2006 Heidi Hoff