Niknok Media, the creative team behind the web-series Blank Verse, have kicked off their run at the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival with their production, Puss: Reboot, written by Emily Tyler, directed by Ryan Caron & Amanda Konkin.
This science fiction piece is a futuristic re-imagining of the classic fairytale, Puss In Boots. The cat this time around? A female cyborg, customized with a tail and cat-ears. Gost, a cyber-engineer (Xander Williams) has grown disenfranchised with the family business of selling cyborgs as slaves and is working on a way to break their collective programming en masse. Then mysteriously, the titular cyborg, Puss (Sarah Harrison) is delivered to his secret military doorstep.
On the technical end of things, it is very well executed with some creative lighting and sound, including songs by local artist The April Fools Childrenhood. If I were going to nit-pick on the techy stuff, there was room for some more sound effects work, and on one or two occasions the show’s blocking did hide some of the more emotionally tense moments. I will stress that those are very minor points here. Puss: Reboot also gets a big plus for the quick, unexpected stunts in the finale. No spoilers, but it definitely made us in the audience jump!
The cast is where the Puss: Reboot truly shines its brightest. The three actors have a tremendous chemistry together. The two leads, Xander Williams and Sarah Harrsion, both leave a big impact with their respective roles, balancing playful back-and-forth with some much heavier moral sparring. Andrew Lynch is clearly having a blast playing his three distinct supporting characters. The trio just seem to hit everything right where it should be.
The script gives us a solid premise with a mix of dark, serious sci-fi with some witty, Whedon-esque banter. My only honest complaint with the show is in its length. At only thirty minutes, despite a great build, its ending does end up feeling a little rushed. Given even another ten-fifteen minutes and its still good finish could have been great. But by that same token, I was left wanting more in a very positive sense. I really got into this world and I really want to see more of it. Be it a longer stage version or something put to film, I think the creators are on to something very cool here. I do hope the team at Niknok take the chance to explore that further.
Puss: Reboot is a clever and fun show with an engaging dark undertone, delivering a genre tale one doesn’t see very often on stage. The ride may be short, but its well worth taking.
If you want to check out the music behind Puss: Reboot, here’s the Bandcamp page for The April Fools Childrenhood.