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Orange Is The New Blank – Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014

From the minds of the comedy duo Virginia Jack comes this wholly improvised tale of women in prison. Or tales, rather, as each night the audiences will be getting an entirely different show. Each of the prisoners in Orange Is The New Blank get a quick piece of inspiration suggested by the crowd, be it an emotion, an object, a favorite book and then a title for that night’s “episode”. At that point, the cast dive in and tell a full-length story about the ladies behind bars.

And it is hilarious! The talent level of the show’s performers is astounding. Each of the five prisoners (on my night: Nicole Passmore, Briana Rayner, Ese Atawo, Julianne Hoyak and Jamie Chrest) and two guards (both played by Brad Rossington) were given plenty of time to shine and all managed to stand out brilliantly. There is definitely no weak links here! I couldn’t pick a favorite if I was at gunpoint (which could explain why we’re all in jail right now).

The night that I attended saw the convicts organizing a Christmas party complete with a Secret Santa gift exchange. There was dancing, romance, Batman-related poetry, small woodland creatures, a variety of English accents, and there was French. A lot of French. There was a plot thread for every given character and then some, and every single one was neatly wrapped up by the show’s end. Most scripted television can’t manage to accomplish that half the time!

Speaking of television, to put some people at ease, while there is certainly some inspiration from the Netflix series with a similar name, Orange Is The New Blank is not a direct send-up of that show, so audiences who may be leery of either spoilers or not being able to follow because they haven’t marathoned both seasons need not worry. The show is accessible to everyone.

And for those who only think of improv as the games from Whose Line Is It Anyways, you might be surprised to see something long form like this built from the ground up right in front of your eyes. It really is awe-inspiring.

 

Orange Is The New Blank is hands down the most fun I’ve had at the Fringe thus far. If you’re looking for some great comedy, maybe look into getting in the lock-up here.

 

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