Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Ride the Cyclone (PuSh)

(photo credit: Fairen Berchard)
Ride the Cyclone is one roller coaster worth riding
Anything’s possible in a show where all the characters are already dead.
by Chris Lane

Ride the Cyclone begins with a mechanized fortune-teller (richly voiced by Carey Wass) telling the audience about six teenagers who plunged to their deaths on the Cyclone coaster. The computer brings them back to life in order to play a game.

The game is to decide which of the six adolescents the machine will allow to keep on living, while leaving the other five to remain dead. The deceased youth, who had been members of a choir together, then proceed to tell their stories, dreams and fantasies through a series of songs, each one wildly different from the others.

Things get even weirder after that

The choir member’s songs get off to a smashing start with Rielle Braid showing off her impressive voice as Ocean, the over-achiever who knows she should be brought back to life because she has the most to contribute to the world. Next up is Kholby Wardell as Noel, the one gay guy in the village who is captivating as he sings of his desire to be the “fucked-up girl” of a Parisian red light district. Things get even weirder after that with a surprisingly funny rap from Ukrainian adoptee Misha, followed by an even more bizarre song, a glammed up Bowie-esque fantasy that’s just a bit too outlandish.

Fortunately, the show got better again when the spotlight landed on the doleful Jane Doe, before the final story from the nicest girl in school and eternal sidekick, Constance.

Jane Doe is so named because she lost her head in the accident, and her body was never identified. No one in the insular, northern community seemed to be missing her. Sarah Jane Pelzer is brilliantly spooky and heartbreaking as this mysterious dead girl, who clutches a decapitated doll from which she found herself a head. Surmising that her soul must be with her lost head, she cannot remember a thing from whatever life she had lived.

Not only does the musical have some very eerie scenes, and some touching after-death admissions, but it’s also filled with some hilarious dialogue by playwright Jacob Richmond. Brooke Maxwell’s music is lively and enjoyable when it needs to be, and haunting and powerful the rest of the time. The young cast is bursting with energy and vocal talent.

Ride the Cyclone skillfully captures a range of teenage experiences and serves them up with just the right mix of tenderness, glamour and dark humour. This is the ride that’s worth lining up for.

Ride the Cyclone is from Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville, directed by Jacob Richmond and Britt Small. It is playing at the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage as part of the PuSh Festival. The 90-minute production runs until February 16. More info.

Read a first-person piece by Jacob Richmond about the work's creation

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.