Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: (Winnipeg) Roller Derby Saved My Soul (Fringe)

Be Your Own Hero
by Edgar Governo

To the best of my knowledge, Buffy Summers is never seen wearing roller skates.

Neither is Ellen Ripley or Princess Leia Organa, but Amy (playwright Nancy Kenny) desperately needs to tap into their heroic spirit to make her life worth living when re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer just isn't enough, and roller derby gets her there. While going through her own heroic origin story, however--and worrying about whether she'll live long enough to see herself become the villain--Amy must also learn that every hero is only as good as their team, in whatever form that takes: Fellowship of the Ring, Justice League, Rebel Alliance, or Scooby Gang.

Kenny very successfully handles the arc that takes Amy from reserved frustration through the process of coming out of her shell (and admitting to her knee sock fetish), while director Tania Levy keeps the action moving enough to suggest the energy of a full-on roller derby jam despite the minimal set design and solo performance. Although it's not the focus, there is also a nicely understated romantic subplot running through the show when Amy develops a crush on fellow roller derby player Diana Pinch after discovering a shared appreciation for Wonder Woman.

(As if that weren't enough, Kenny scored some extra points around the track for this reviewer both by offering a shout-out to the local Winnipeg Roller Derby League at the end of the show and by currently co-producing On the Fringe, a feature-length documentary about the Canadian Fringe experience.)

With great power comes great responsibility, and the dynamic duo of Kenny and Levy have taken what could've been a routine story about discovering a new passion and elevated it to a hero's journey.

July 16 - 27

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