The Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Dates 6 - 16 September 2007 Venue Various Theatres in Vancouver Reviewer John Jane

Bye Bye Bombay

Creator/Performer Cara Yeates

Bye Bye Bombay is a multimedia semi-autobiographical account of a young woman’s adventures and misadventures while traveling alone through India. From being a Bollywood extra to riding the overcrowded commuter trains in Mumbai, Gauri, the name Cara Yeates gives her central character, learns much more than how to handle the chaotic traffic and amorous wife-seekers.

Her experiences parallel an allegorical subtext in the form of a parable of a raindrop in search of a puddle in which to land, related through a pair of puppets in Rajasthani national dress.

Speaking with a rushed, supercharged narrative style, Yeates takes on such diverse roles as a Bollywood film-maker, a drunken maharaja, a Russian dancer and a couple of locals who offer confusing directions to Mcdonalds.

Yeates concludes the show on a bittersweet note. Dressed in a blue sari, she reads her mother’s last letter expressing her desire to visit India herself, but will never do so.

Patrons to this show are invited to make a small contribution to the Mumbai Mobile Crèches. A project that is close to the performer’s heart. Word of mouth is making Bye Bye Bombay a festival favourite. I arrived at the venue five minutes early, and barely managed to find a seat.


Creator/Performer Becky Johnson Dates 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 15 September 2007 Venue Havana Theatre Reviewer John Jane

There was a double surprise waiting at the Havana theatre on Commercial Drive before Anorexican had hardly started. Firstly, with all the buzz about how well this show had been received at the Toronto Fringe, why was I one of only seven patrons warming a seat in the theatre?

The second surprise involved Becky Johnson, Anorexican’s solo performer herself. I suppose I expected to see a waifish tatterdemalion; in fact, Ms Johnson is a healthy looking, well-proportioned young woman who doesn’t appear to have had any direct experience with her core subject.

I also discovered that Johnson lacks neither talent, nor mettle. It takes fortitude to present any kind of one woman (or man) show in front a tiny audience, never mind that show’s main theme is as controversial as anorexia.

Johnson uses few props, no music, no flashy video and no costume changes. Yet, she delivers a satirical, geo-political Gesamtwerk with acid humour and a pastiche of colourful characters.

Anorexican is not all good news however; her metonymical expostulations about the geographical existence of Anorexia left me a little bewildered. At times I sat “Uncomfortably numb” not quite knowing whether I should laugh or squirm as Johnson seamlessly transforms herself into a myriad of weirdoes and oddballs.

It’s unfortunate that this show was so far out of the Fringe’s hub on Granville Island. Becky Johnson’s moxie should be seen in packed theatres.

Private i

Creator Denise Clarke Performer Jolene Bailie Dates 7, 9, 11, 12, 15 & 16 September 2007 Venue Studio 16 Reviewer John Jane

Studio 16, a venue normally used for Vancouver’s Francophone community events is in total darkness; that is except for a pre-show diversion provided by a pair of mirrored holograms of Jolene Bailie herself in the corners of the stage.

Out of the darkness looms Ms Bailie in a private world, listening to music on her iPod. The music she seems to be enjoying so much is by Toronto band, Hylozoists, though at this time, only she can hear it. She is deliberately oblivious to her audience at this point as she starts to gyrate to the unheard beat.

Bailie’s performance is extremely physical and her dance interpretation is very accessible – even obvious. In one sequence, her professed jealousy manifests itself in her foot. Her choreographed struggle ends in valiant defeat, but not before she has utterly mesmerized the audience with the most bizarre contortions.

Bailie’s spoken narrative is incidental. She doesn’t so much talk, but rather speaks in a kind of adolescent breathy whisper. Even as she sings “What Becomes of the Broken-hearted” – it sounds more like a lullaby than the Motown soul tune recorded by Jimmy Ruffin.

Many Fringe performers use dance to augment comedy. Jolene Bailie uses humour to augment her dance.

Bondage by David Henry Hwang

Dates 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, & 16 September 2007 Venue Firehall Arts Centre Reviewer John Jane

The opening sequence of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s Bondage just about had the audience riveted to their seats. Three exotic women, (Joanna Liu, Lissa Neptuno, and Thi Tran) attired in black dominatrix costumes are writhing around the stage floor in a sexually charged dance. This is not a typical version of East meets West.

Bondage is a one-act play set in a Los Angeles S&M parlor, which probes the sexual encounters of a dominatrix and a regular client who explore a little ethnic role playing. Unlike many of the Fringe shows, this piece is not original. It was first conceived in the early nineties by playwright David Henry Hwang who described it as a romantic comedy about two people trying to connect.

The humour, such as it is, relies mainly on sarcasm and Asian in-jokes. Director Josette Jorge, however, does revitalize the production by increasing the cast from two to five and allowing the dominatrix role some vulnerability.

Despite a spirited performance as Terri the Dominatrix by Edwina C. (for some reason the leading players family names are not disclosed in the programme) and the slinky, silent sexuality of the “Junior Doms,” Bondage never completely delivers on its early promise. Perhaps the problem was with Hwang’s dialogue. Although quick-paced, it was a trifle heavy for 11.30 on a Friday night.

© 2007 John Jane