Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Broken Sex Doll

Great Big Sexy Laughs
Fantastic cast makes it all work
by David C. Jones
Andy Thompson is a passionate creative man who has a great sense of mischief.

Broken Sex Doll is so outrageous and funny I hurt my knee. Or rather someone hurt my knee. The seating  at The Cultch is raked so the lady ahead of me and one row down laughed so hard at one point she threw her head back far enough that she smashed into my leg, hard.

Broken Sex Doll is a raunchy sci-fi sex comedy musical about a world where people can download other’s emotions and experiences directly into their own body. The Feelies, as they are called, can be so powerful and fun they can turn the provider into a star. YouTube-like you can monetize your personal emotions and like Xtube the sex ones are the top sellers. 

The music by Anton Lipovetsky and the lyrics by Andy Thompson are raging and filled with jocularity

It’s 2136 and our protagonist Darryl wakes up in a hospital after getting some system implant upgrades. There a few glitches, for example he can no longer swear, but the nurse is really nice and they agree to go out to dinner. Turns out she is a Ginger 5000 - a nurse android who has been upgraded into a sex fembot with a fantastical vagina. 

When Darryl uploads their sexual encounter he quickly surpasses the previous leader, The King, as the most experienced Feelie.

Exploding onto the stage with a rocking anthem "Gimme What You Got" the cast of 10 is clad in sexy black pleather (designed by Drew Facey with Amy McDougall) with a lot of skin exposed. The music by Anton Lipovetsky and the lyrics by Andy Thompson are raging and filled with jocularity, the choreography by The Contingency Plan is fresh and sexy and the cast is commanding and electric.

At first it feels like the show is going to be a dark comedy about the road to excess, consumption and entitlement but it settles back into a revenge tale as The King decides to take down Daryl. But it’s a dirty, naughty wickedly funny revenge tale.

The cast makes this show really sing. Benjamin Elliott is quite simply one of the funniest actors in town. He can find so many levels and turns to milk laughs from every line and situation. He also stays grounded in a heightened reality so there is some weight to this silly show.

Gili Roskies as the Ginger 5000 has an amazing voice and also brings welcome depth and wicked comedy to her robot sex doll. Andy Toth does a riff on his Edna character from Hairspray as the King’s Mother but he especially delights as Lars the Repair Man.
The whole cast are red-hot firecracker French-tickler fun but the breakout star is Neezar as the King, strutting around in an open chested leather vest or on stilts when he sings equal parts rock opera and rock God.

The show sags in places but it’s the inventiveness of the cast that allows it to skip along over those patches waiting for the next big group song. This is going to be a great big hit and like other Canadian phenoms - Ride The Cylone and Craigslist Cantata - it is bound to be tweaked and finessed.

What we have right now is rocking dirty good time with a cast that is to die for! Plug in!


  1. I opted to not include this directly into my review because I did not want to distract from the great work that this cast did. However I was very disturbed by something about this vision of the future. Why did the population contain no Asian or Black people? If it was commentary it was not adressed.


  2. It was not a commentary. Race was not a factor in the casting, nor is it meant to be part of the story. Many futuristic contemplations had to be largely ignored in the interests of the audience's time: transportation, politics, religion, etc.

    In future productions, casting can be "colour blind". It's irrelevant to this script. In this production, Neezar who plays "The King" is Lebanese and his character prefers "chicks with a tan" and no "pasty chicks" but that's there to illustrate his misogyny and narcissism, not anything racial in terms of any commentary about the future.

    Thanks for the kind words, DCJ!


  3. Okay - I am not trying to antagonize - I just want to clarify terminology.

    "Colour-blind" casting refers to casting a previously produced play with non-traditional casting. For example, the upcoming production of Chekov's Three Sisters. Jane Heyman's has a mixed ethnic cast, not generally associated with the script. That's is 'colour-blind' casting. Or rather "Canadian Society" casting.

    Broken Sex Doll is an original work depicting life in 2136. On that level it therefore depicts 'life in the future' as all Cascasian except for the evil King who seeks to destroy the protagonist - he is portrayed by an non-Caucasian' actor.

    There is a difference.

    David C. Jones

  4. Wow. Having the only actor of colour play the villain, and part of his villainy involve being turned off by whiteness? I get that the objectification and reduction of women to their skin was the intention of those lines quoted, but doing it in a racialised way where a person of colour being more attracted to people of colour than to white people is mocked... That's not a small problem.
    Thank you very much, David, for mentioning this - I'd been looking for shows to take a date to, and this looked perfect, but as someone with white skin privilege who's going out with someone of colour, that would've been a really sour evening.

  5. In the spirit of non-antagonistically discussing the finer points of theatre definitions, it is perhaps useful to consult Wikipedia:

    "Colour-blind casting, non-traditional casting or integrated casting is the practice of casting a role without considering the actor's ethnicity."

    Of course, a user-generated online encyclopedia like Wikipedia is not the "be all and end all", but that definition of the phrase can be argued to reflect the opinions of the world’s theatre community. There is no mention of "previous productions" in the definition, and I would tend to agree with that omission. Colour-blind casting simply means that the colour of skin of the performer is not considered in the casting process.

    Such was the case in the casting of this show. As a director, I sought to put the best performer in each role, not the performer with the best ethnic background. Neezar was cast as The King simply because he is a brilliant, multi-talented performer; he is an accomplished actor, opera singer and stilt-walker among other things. That is as far as it goes.

    Anyone can try to analyze the show from an imposed perspective. It doesn’t change what the show is actually exploring, however, which is essentially moral decay within a technologically advanced society. 'Broken Sex Doll' does not attempt to investigate the future of racism. Nor does it attempt to analyze the future of eating disorders, war, disease, famine, dental practices, autism, genetically modified food or the oil sands. I am quite content to allow other playwrights to examine those topics.



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