Dr. Egg And The Man With No Ear
From an original story by Catherine Fargher

Director Jessica Wilson

Dates and Venue 26 October - 6 November 2010, 8pm (October 39, 2pm matinee) | Historic Theatre, Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Reviewer Stephanie Dodd

While it wasn't written with Halloween in mind, Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear is just in time for anyone looking for a perfect way to get into the spirit or to carry it on past October. Produced and directed by Jessica Wilson and written by Catherine Fargher, this play offers a fantastic mix of the eerie, the comedic, and the poignant.

Visually, Dr. Egg is stunning. The audience is drawn into its unique style from the very first scene wherein mildly creepy, compellingly quirky music accompanies a beautiful projected animation short of a windy nature scene. This sets a melancholy mood that carries on throughout the show and is strongly reminiscent of some of Tim Burton's best movies.

Immediately after this meditative prelude, we are introduced to our narrator, a strange not-quite-human character, possibly from the mutant-filled future. The narrator, played by Tania Bosak, is nothing short of brilliant. Her spoken voice is gorgeous - a good thing, since all the other characters are mute - but she doesn't stop there. She sings, she jumps, she entertains, she directs the other actors, and she apparently provides every non-musical sound effect in the show.

The story is simple, sad and sweet, although there are also moments of quiet comedy to keep it on the lighter side. It revolves around a widower (Christian Bagin) and his eleven-year old daughter (Rebecca Mauldin), who was born the same night that he lost his ear to a vicious dog after his wife died in a bicycle accident. He is sad in contemplating his one-eared life, and while his daughter does her best to cheer him up, she is never successful for long.

Rumors of the possibly mad scientist Dr. Egg (Adam Shalzi) draw them to his laboratory on the hill. Here the doctor has developed a method to grow tomato plants at rapid speeds, occasionally with disturbing results. The plan is for him to grow a new ear for our hero. Without giving away any more, things go awry, moral dilemmas are faced, and interesting questions are asked about our responsibilities when it comes to humanity's scientific leaps and bounds.

There is so much beauty to take in here. The performers are all excellent. Aside from the narrator, they never speak, but it would be easy to watch the entire play without noticing because the emotion they share speaks for itself. Periodically, they interact with the animation and with the puppets that sometimes fill in for their characters on stage.

The puppetry itself is gorgeous in a way I didn't know puppetry could be. There is a grace to the puppets that makes them seem almost as human as the humans on the stage. The stage set is clever as well, integrating the people, puppets, animation and action almost seamlessly.

Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear is an original and beautiful piece from start to finish. It deserves to be seen and loved.

© 2010 Stephanie Dodd