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Review: Content Warning: Erotic Fanfiction Deathmatch – Superheroes!

Books & Writing, Comedy, Culture, Events, Performance, Reviews, Short Fictions

July 19, 2017

Seven Dining Lounge is fast becoming a regular geek hangout with many recurring monthly shows known in the community. The night of Friday, July 7th was no exception with Content Warning: Erotic Fanfiction Deathmatch. For those not in the know, fanfiction is a written piece of fiction about a popular culture franchise usually by a fan of said franchise. A famous example of fanfic I’m sure many have heard of is Fifty Shades of Grey, originally based on the Twilight series. Content Warning is a lot like that, but without the Hollywood budget movies and with a bit more consent.

To start off the night’s festivities, host and co-producer Jesse Inocalla takes the stage to announce, well… content warning and general conduct. Each piece has a word count limit of 2,000 words and the content must be enthusiastically consensual. And to the audience, “Don’t be creeps.” A logical rule welcomed by all those attending. This is when the logic ends and wtf begins, as Jesse launches into the first 4 chapters of the ever infamous “My Immortal”. To get the full impact of My Immortal, Google is your friend. It was the only piece of the night not featuring a local writer and set the tone of painful hilarity for the rest of the evening.

The first actual feature story of the night was “Maximum Effort” by Lisa Simon as read by Seth Little’s soothing voice. It began with in-story Deadpool sitting by a fireplace, telling us a bedtime smutty tale about himself and Wolverine, and later joined by Lady Deadpool and Headpool. Also a B story of Dogpool and a white, squeaky unicorn plush somewhere in the background. The words “Snikt me!” and “frothy man syrup” happened. To say more would likely violate content rating rules.

Next up was Katie Kieran Browner’s “Batman v. Catwoman!” narrated by the lovely Minnie Perón. Set in Gotham City on July 4th of a nondescript year, Catwoman slinks around and encounters a stray Batman. A steamy encounter happens between the two and “I’m Batman” was uttered five times. And then – Plot Twist! – it was actually imposter Deadpool. But also it’s just a fantasy as imagined by Deadpool because Deadpool respects women and would never do such a thing.

The third story of the night had the ever talented Abbey St. Brendan reading Jenna Sokalski’s “One Pump Man”. This tale of Saitama (titular character of One Punch Man) has him in the loving embrace of Kal-El himself. It features active consent, as one would expect of classic Superman and was ground-shakingly funny. Abbey’s expressive voice lent well to Saitama’s baritone and 50s radio play style Superman, which adds another layer to the story telling and had the audience roaring with laughter.

Before intermission, we have “Batman vs. Superman” by Topher Andrew Graham, as delivered by the charming Nhi Do. A better version of Batman v Superman where Batman helps out a bro doused in Zod’s Kryptonian pheromones. There’s a Wonder Woman cameo which involved “mathematically impossible poses”. Also “giant dick shaped holes” in significant cultural monuments such as the Eiffel Tower. Kryptonite was used, candles were lit, baddies were ultimately defeated.

Right after the break, we have David Aboussafy’s “Birds of Prey”, once again read by Nhi Do. It features Harley Quinn domming Nightwing and lots of laughing, as one would expect with Harley. Also CBT (NOT cognitive behavioural therapy). As they say, “Once you had Dick…”

The outstanding story of the night is “Kibble War” by Zachary Taylor voiced by Abbey St. Brendan. It truly lived up to the shows name. It sees Garfield’s AU (alternate universe for those not well versed in fanfic lingo) superhero persona, Garzooka and the Pet Force, and the Super Buddies. One must be there to fully absorb the impact this story leaves, made all the more captivating by Abbey’s sound effects. To go into more details will surely violate content rating rules.

To recover from Kibble War, there is Minnie Perón reading Mikail Korst’s “INFINITY FIST”. Thanos lost his Infinity Gauntlet in Galactus’ anal cavity, granting the World Eater unlimited power. Dr. Manhattan arrives with a White Lantern ring where one does not usually find a Lantern ring and attempts to retrieve said gauntlet and to punish Galactus by unconventional means. The tale ends in them forever entwined in passion… or as the audience coined, a “f*ckpocalypse”.

Last but not least is “The Batgirl” by Lauren Wallace, narrated once again by Seth Little. The audience saw Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) giving Batgirls (Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain) a lesson in seduction. The story features Batgirls, many bat similes, more bat facts, and SO MANY bat sex facts. And at the end of it all, Batwoman.

At the end of the night, audience members were encouraged to vote on an online poll to choose the night’s, Smut Master. Lauren Wallace’s “The Batgirl” won fan favourite. Spanning 3 hours, 4 local performers, and 8 stories, Content Warning definitely gives the ticket price worth of entertainment and then some. If adult bedtime stories with a heavy dose of trashy smut and questionable logic sounds like a good time, absolutely do check out future shows. Next Content Warning is on August 11th and the theme is Fantasy.

 


Eva Mak is a local producer, artist and lady about town. You can tweet at her @originalevamak 

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226

Fiction: Clone Me Baby, One More Time

Books & Writing, Culture

June 30, 2017

The rocket hit me in the face dead on. My teeth shattered, pieces of bone shearing the soft tissues of my tongue and mouth. My nose hollowed out and everything from its bridge down became pulp. The faceplate I wore saved my eyes, though it cracked and the display disappeared in a flicker of red. I wavered between consciousness and darkness as blood loss took its toll.

I respawned back at home base, my new body buzzing with fresh energy. This was my third death this game; my K/D ratio was going to go to shit if I kept this up. I grabbed an Energy Aid Cola from the drink machine — the price automatically deducted from the game’s winnings — and downed the methamphetamine laced drink.

My name is Lady Death and this is the life I was cloned for.

We were down two lane lengths, the enemy team’s crawlers pounding at our door, and I was playing like a newbie-clone who still needed her training bot to function. If we didn’t get a grip on this game then the Sunbros could say goodbye to our place at Superchamp stadium, and we might as well stop playing if it came to that. I grabbed a Lady Death Soul Reaper Scythe™ from the rack and breached the base’s doors to once again join the fight.

Big Johnny Four was waiting at the entrance, his black and gold exosuit glinting in the noon sun.

“Saw the replay of that hit, you okay Lady D?”

His immense frame towered over me, his right arm encased in a massive gatling gun.

“I’m fine. It’s just the crowd today. They seem more hostile than normal,” I said.

I could see small wars breaking out where the Sunbro fans met the Battering Bruiser fans. There was more gunfire going on in the bleachers than on the actual field. The Game Devs would have to step in if it escalated any more.

“Don’t let it get to you. The Devs just decided to make today free Battle Bright Taco Tuesday. I think they spike that shit with speed.”

Johnny patted my shoulder with his huge hand, his touch soft through my skin-tight armour.

“Come on, we have the the left lane to cover. Silvia’s all by herself and they’re pushing hard.”

I nodded and engaged my cloak, leaving his hand sitting on my ghostly shoulder. He hefted his gun and trundled toward left lane as I took my own, faster route. I ran toward the nearest wall, took a step up it, and flipped on top of it.

The entire field spread out before me, maze like halls with open tops and two uncluttered lanes winding their way through them. Above all was the multifaced big-screens that currently showed Deadringer Silvia holding off two enemy champions. I couldn’t tell which, but I thought I could see the tell-tale shimmer of one of my clone sisters weaving between the crawlers.

I jumped from one wall to the next, making time faster than Johnny who had to traverse the maze on foot. I knew every inch of this course, had been running through it and four others since I was barely out of the clone tubes. I’d run through it blind more than once.

I made my way to Silvia’s perch and tapped on the back of her helmet.

“Dead.”

She nodded and continued firing at the enemy crawlers. Each one she hit exploded in blue flame before disappearing in a mess of metal.

“Big J is on his way, it’s gonna take him a minute or two. I’m going to hit the crawlers on the back line, just keep our own in good shape.”

She nodded again as I jumped down to the lane and headed behind the enemy champs.

I hit a wall and ran on it, the sound of my boosters matching the whine of the crowd. There was the opening: the enemy’s Dirty Harriet was reloading and the blue clad Big Johnny was focused on a crawler that had made it past their defensive line. I slipped between them and toward the stream of crawlers behind.

The edge of my scythe cut through the ribbed bots like they were melting snow. Each one seemed to look around for whatever had hit it before puffing into a fireball. I swept through the advancing crawlers, taking them out two at a time.

Then I heard it: the mechanical trill of my sister Lady Death coming to stop me. I turned toward the sound, trying to spot her before she could close in. She was in-lane, a shimmering blue ghost heading directly toward me. I opened my booster’s throttle to full and jumped over her, her scythe missing me by inches. I rapped her on the back of her helmet with the hilt of my scythe and dropped my cloak before leaping over the wall into the maze.

She followed, still cloaked and probably mad as hell. If she was following me it meant that she wasn’t bugging someone who could do some real damage. I was done sweeping the oncoming crawler wave anyway, enough that Johnny and Silvia could gain ground.

I ran on the maze’s walls and boosted around corners, my mobility easily keeping my doppelganger behind me. She was just boosting along the ground; that meant she was still wet behind the ears with amniotic gel. That meant I could have some fun.

I jumped vertically off the wall I was on, tucked in my legs cannonball style, and boosted high into the air. As the ground fell away behind me I switched on my cloak. Between my golden armour and my cloak, the sunny sky would make me completely invisible. I swung myself around till I pointed at the ground and revved my jets. I came down right on top of her, scythe ready to cut her head open like an avocado.

Then I saw her face. She’d noticed that I was coming down on her and that there was nothing she could do. Her faceplate was just clear enough that I could see her wide, terrified eyes and her mouth hung open, twitching at the corners.

I had a wave of utter horror come over me then, remembering my first few matches when I still felt scared to die. Her face was so much like my own, a few less scars but still as beautiful. I hesitated and she cut me in half.

We won, somehow. Silvia and Big Johnny managed to beat back their lane till it was at the Battering’s base, then Warhammer — a guy on our team with so much armour a tank shell could hit him and he would still be standing — walked our crawlers in. The base exploded, fans cheered, and my ranking dropped six places.

I was still in the top ten rankings for Lady Deaths but it hurt my sponsorships. I lost my contract with Burger Boys and Ooze Energy drinks which meant I would have to start downgrading my equipment. Goodbye steel bones, I knew the well.

Back at the Sunbros’ group home. I sat on the floor of my shower and bit my nails till they bled. I could hear the rest of my team talking about today’s game in the living room.

“What the fuck was up with Lady D today? She was playin’ like a kid in a barfight!” Harriet grumbled, her southern drawl stinging my ears with every twang.

“It was the crowd. The Devs are going crazy with the sponsors lately and it’s getting to her.” Johnny Four said, “They’re getting to me too. Some of our fans had a higher kill count than us today.”

“Bullshit,” Harriet slammed her fist on to the table, “That stuff ain’t more’n a little more noise than normal, it ain’t worth losin’ a lane over. She’s goin’ soft. I watched the replays of that fight with the Batterin’ bitch, I know she hesitated. She’s gonna run soon and you know it.”

Silence came from the other room and tears mingled with my shower water. She was right, maybe I was getting too old for this shit. Maybe I’d overdosed on Energy Aid one too many times and finally snapped, my brain rewiring itself into an emotional stupor. Maybe running was a good idea. At least I’d get to die on my feet.

Johnny caught me leaving that night, his muscled body blocking the doorway out of the apartment.

“You don’t have to do this.” His hands shook at his sides.

“I can’t stay here. Harriet’s right, I’ve gone soft.”

“What about Sylvia?”

Just minutes before, I’d snuck into her room, leaving a note saying “Goodbye, thanks for all the fun times. I’m sorry it had to end like this.” I should have written more but there wasn’t enough time. I looked at Johnny’s feet.

“What about me?” he said.

I hoisted my scythe to hide myself behind bravado. “It wouldn’t have worked out. I like the ladies too much.”

I pushed him aside with it so I could leave. He let me pass and closed the door behind me.

I switched on my visor and the night vision painted the rooftop in sharp green. The Sunbros’ headquarters were on the edge of the mega city Keres — the Devs wanted to keep us as separate from the general population as possible and not even the most avid fans want to risk getting caught in The Taint beyond.

I walked to the edge of the building and looped a rope. As I descended down the building, I began flipping through TV channels on my HUD. Jack Flack’s face filled my vision and the Superchamp theme music began to play.

“Welcome y’all to this special edition of Superchamp, the game that keeps y’all’s blood running hot. As you know, when a Champ gets all cowardly and such, they have a tendency to run like cattle from a bonfire. When that happens, we gotta hunt ’em down like the dogs they are.

“Tonight, we got a little clone who’s a running, the woman in the black and gold, LADY DEATH OF THE SUNBROS!”

The crowd in the background screamed, their voices too loud in my helmet earbuds.

“For those of you who may have forgotten since our last runner, we got a bit of a reminder. When a Champ is cloned in game, they keep the core memories of the previous version. That’s so we get all the different kinds a personalities that y’all enjoy in the games. So the Warhammer from the Glass Cannons won’t act like the Warhammer from the Silverados.”

“But, we don’t keep those memories around after the games: they go right back into a Champ clone for storage. If a champ gets killed outside of a game, they’re gone for good.

“This Lady D has decided to leave her coop and bring all those cowardly memories with her, which is good for us. We have to get rid of em but why leave out all you people from the fun of it.”

Jack turned to the camera and gave the audience a wink.

“We’ve set up another, randomly picked, champ with their own cameras and we’re sending them after her into the wastes. Tonight’s hunter will be…” He turned to a screen at the center of the stage and swept his hand toward the flickering name, “Lady Death from the Battering Bruisers!”

I shut the feed down. Of course they had to bring that Battering Bitch in. I rappelled down the side of the wall as fast as I could. If I was going to get through this, I would have to put some distance between us before they released the hunter. As soon as I hit the ground I ran off into The Taint.

Two hours later, I was running along the edge of a cliff face with the last dregs of a can of Energy Aid flowing through my system. There hadn’t been much excitement other than the occasional man-eating plant. Games never lasted this long, and without the soothing life of a new clone body, the new sensation of sore muscles was wearing me down.

I slid down the steep cliff face, vines making the boost-assisted climb a nightmare. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep this up before I had to find somewhere to hide and let my poor muscles rest. My foot caught an outcropping of rock and I almost fell, just managing to hold on with my fingertips. Then an explosion thrummed through me.

To my right, a chunk of the wall fell to the ground seventy feet below. The explosion shook me off of the rock face and I plummeted along with the rubble. With help from my booster my fall slowed but I felt a deep crack as I threw my arm between my face and the ground.

Pain crested from my shoulder to my elbow. My ribs burned every time I took in a whistling breath. I reached into the pack I’d taken when I left and grabbed a Bingo Bandage (“With child friendly morphine!”) to slap on my neck. With the drug seething through my body, I grabbed my scythe from my back and stood to face whatever had knocked me from my perch.

“Whoa there D,” someone said from the edge of the rubble-filled clearing. “Don’t move or I’ll actually hit you this time.”

“Johnny?”

From the shadowed treeline stepped Big Johnny Four, his armour overgrown with moss but still showing the lime green underneath. He hoisted a golf club onto his left shoulder and smiled at me.

“You the runner or the hunter?” he asked.

I put my scythe away with my good arm and lifted my faceplate. “I’m running. They have Newbie after me though.”

“Good,” he said, shrugging his shoulder in a beckoning gesture, “We’ve got time to talk before she gets here.”

He walked into the forest and I followed after him.

“Greenskin Johnny, huh? You ran two years ago, right?”

“Yeah. I was slowing down too much in-game. They were about to retire me. So I ran.”

“I thought they’d killed you, though. Sylvia shot you in the heart. They got the vitals and everything.”

He raised his right arm as we walked. Where the chain gun should have been was a healed over stump poking out of the armour.

“She shot me all right. I lost the arm but she just missed my heart. It’s good to see you.”

“Good to see you too.”

We walked and the silence between us filled with the sounds of The Taint. Birds chirped as the crunch of the leaves beneath our feet fell into a rhythm. I took a deep breath and felt the cool air soothe my broken body. The morphine was beginning to wear off, the silver chill of it dissipating.

Johnny stopped, looking back toward the way we’d come.

“She’s coming. The shit around us just got too quiet. There’s a clearing not too far from here and my house is just beyond that. We can make a stand there.”  

We ran together as I fumbled in my pack for another round of Bingo and Energy. We breached the clearing. Vine covered cliffs fed in and out between too tall trees. It was a fun place for a battle and I was pretty sure I could outmaneuver a Lady D who hadn’t figured out wall-crawling yet.

“I’ll go set up behind the bush over there,” Johnny said and pointed his club across the clearing. He ran toward his hiding spot, his breath coming out in jagged gasps, and leaned on his club.

A camera drone roared into the clearing and began circling around me, its engine spitting up dirt and leaves around the clearing. Then came the hum of my pursuer’s cloak, so familiar even through the buzzing of the camera drone.

She came and I ran. I activated my own cloak and burst away from her. We moved through the clearing together, dancing around each other in playful arcs. Even through the adrenalin and knowledge of perma-death, it was still nice to be back doing what I was made for.

She finally attacked me and her blade slid across mine as I blocked. I felt the sting of my injured arm worsen and heard another crack, the limb falling from my scythe to hang by my side. I boosted away from her and toward the wall. She followed behind, the shimmer of her cloak drawing lines of sunlight behind her.

Johnny started hitting grenades then and the forest floor was torn apart. His signature move and the reason for his nickname lit the clearing up, the whack of “golf balls” preceding it. The Blue Bitch sped up.

I hit the cliff face and stepped up it with ease. Behind me followed the newbie and explosions. She’d apparently practiced after the last match; her wall-crawl was sloppy but existent. Behind us the cliff shed rock as Johnny put the heat to her heels.

I twirled and shifted back toward her. The dust from the grenades had overwhelmed her cloak and I could see her face again, just as scared as before. I hung in the air for a moment as my momentum fought my boosters.

“Fuck it.” I said to myself and tackled her, carrying us both into a grenade blast.

The pain in my shoulder flared brighter than the sun as the concussion hit me. I lost my breath and what was left of the two of us fell. I looked down at the ground coming to meet me through a broken visor and closed my eyes.

Johnny rested on his golf club and stared down at me.

“That was stupid, D,” he said.

I tried to push myself up but my arms refused to move.

“Just stay there, If you wiggle it’ll make you bleed worse. I wrapped it up as best I could, but…”

“Where’s the other one?” I felt blood flow from the split in my lip.

“Still in the pile of rocks. The cam’s gone so she’s probably dead,” Johnny pointed his club in line with my legs.

I flexed my arms again and felt my palms clench. I took two deep breaths, put my arm out to catch myself, rolled onto my right side, and kept rolling as my elbow never met ground. Blood smeared across the grass and pain punched through my morphine haze as the thing that used to be my shoulder hit the ground.

“That’s what I was talking about, D. Stay down.”

“She’s just a kid.”

I lifted myself to my knees and static filled the edges of my vision.

“I’ll get her D. Just lay down,” Johnny said.

The dirt tasted just about as good as I imagined it would. As I heard Johnny stomp off to the pile of rubble under the cliff, I enjoyed the feeling of grass on my cheeks. I turned my head and looked at the clearing around me.

Without the visor the world was closer, the light more severe. Glowing flowers lit the clearing and through the break in the trees, I could see tiny lights dancing in the sky. Something big moved far into the foliage around me.

“She’s still breathing,” Johnny said, dragging my clone’s Blue clad body behind him.

Her faceplate was cracked, the flashing light from the broken screen inside illuminating her eyes. I reached over and slid the useless tech off her. Her face was unbroken, except for a small cut under her left eye. Something was wrong, so similar but dissonant to the face I saw in the mirror. I reached out and stroked her short, black hair.

“She’s got a few ribs broken at least and there’s a rock sticking out of her leg that’s like two feet long. I don’t want to take it out ’til I have a proper setup though. There’s no telling how much blood she’s lost.”

Johnny started tearing apart cloth from a bag on his hip and wrapping them around Battering’s chest. She coughed and her eyes fluttered.

“It’s okay. Shhh, just rest,” I said. I grabbed her hand with mine and squeezed it.

She squeezed back. “They’re going to send another one.”

The lights in the sky shrank away as the twilight of dawn rolled across them. I squeezed Big J’s knee as he worked and then slid my hand back to Lady D’s.

“We’ll be ready.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

Holly Sophia McCrea is a poet, artist, and short fiction writer from Vancouver BC. She’s been published in The Drabblecast audio fiction magazine and currently has a chapbook available on Amazon.

If you liked this, then you can read more from Holly here.

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343

Fiction: Eyes Like Boxes, Mind Like Fire

Books & Writing, Culture

June 15, 2017

The boat was old, something they’d dug up from the mid-forties that looked more like a battleship than a commercial vessel, all sharp lines and doorways with wheels instead of handles. I squinted across the gangplank towards the party boat we’d rented for the weekend, my dreams of a picture-perfect first kegger party dashed.

“Where did Jason find this thing?” I asked my boyfriend, Justin. “It looks like a submarine fucked a sailboat.”

“I like it,” he said, wrapping his arm around my waist. “It’s bad ass. We don’t have to worry about breaking shit.” He grinned at Jason, who was in the process of exploring, opening doors and climbing up railings to look at the above deck. “Besides, we didn’t have to pay much for it, which means we have more money for beer.”

On cue, the rest of our party showed up: two teenage girls with a keg of beer between them, gasping from the weight.

“Hey Twins,” Jason called from his perch on one of the railings, his feet dangling over the water.

“Hey yah,” they said in unison, their voices strained under the weight of the keg. They set it down and studied the boat in front of them. They weren’t really twins; Puck was a year older than Pan, and they looked different enough that the non-familial connection was obvious. Ever since grade school, they’d been inseparable, though, and thus the nickname.

Jason ran off the boat and helped Justin take the keg from the women; “All aboard who’s going aboard. Welcome to your home for the weekend.” They walked up the plank, the dock bobbing under the weight of them and the keg.

“This looks safe,” Puck said as she joined me next to the boat.

“Safe like broken bottle,” said Pan. She hugged me before carefully walking across the black water below and onto the deck.

Puck followed her other half and left me alone on the dock. I looked over the side of the bobbing wood below me and into the inky black. I really didn’t like the look of any of this; it was all so different in my head. Nothing like how I’d been fantasizing all through school last week. I stepped onto the gangplank and started up to get ready for our gathering.

The walls were coated in faint scratches near the bottom and icy cold, the metal of the place quickly shedding what heat it had gained before the sun set an hour earlier. The upper deck had the wheelhouse, two bathrooms, a few sleeping quarters, and an extra room that was empty, probably for meetings. The bottom deck was a twisting maze of halls with a few more bathrooms and a galley that had a table perfect for our partying needs.

Justin already had the keg set up with a row of red plastic cups waiting to be filled ringed around it. I went to the cooler we’d brought along and began to help dishing out the food. Cupcakes, sandwiches, a few cliche party hats, and one big bowl of candy were soon spread out on the metal table.

As I unwrapped a Lemon Head and popped it in my mouth, I noticed Puck staring at something on the ceiling. There was a hole, the inside made of a of stained and slick looking synthetic cloth. I went to stand by Puck and examine it further.

“And more weird shit,” I said. “What do you think it is?”

“A garbage chute maybe? I don’t remember seeing anything upstairs though.”

Someone slipped their hands around me from behind and I smelled Justin’s cologne. He tightened his hug and nibbled on my ear. “What’s up, pup?”

My breath quickened. “Nothing. Just something weird Puck found.”

“Then come and have a drink with me.” He took my hands in his and led me to the drinks, giving me one of the red cups. I drank from it, the bubbly liquid making me blanch with its bitter taste. I kept drinking as Justin and I sat together on the floor, my head resting on his shoulder.

Across the room Puck and Pan were doing the same, the weird hole forgotten with drink and cuddling. Jason was eating a sandwich and watching an episode of some show on his tablet. I pressed myself into Justin and kissed his jaw before taking another sip of beer.

Sudden music came from Jason’s tablet, something by The Killers that was calm and frantic at the same time. He grinned as the Twins got up and began swaying to the music. I set my beer aside and stood, grabbing Justin’s hand and dragging him to his feet.

We danced, all of us together. Jason danced by himself, using the cheesiest moves he could think of. Puck and Pan, with fits of giggles, swayed next to each other in a way I was sure I’d seen in a cartoon when I was a kid. Justin and I took each other by the hand and started a fast paced waltz, his hand drifting slowly down as mine stayed on his shoulder.

The Killers gave way to the Gorillaz and the Gorillaz gave way to a techno song I’d never heard. Between the dancing, the eating, and the making out, we spent a few hours in bliss. My head felt heavy as I watched Puck kissing Pan, my face half pressed into Justin’s leather coat. Jason was on the table, lost in his own world as he continuously danced the grocery basket.

I smiled into my boyfriend’s chest and breathed deeply of his sweat-tinged cologne. I felt my way under his jacket to slide my hand along his stomach. Perfect night, perfect smell, perfect friends. I was glad Jason had found this place, glad for the music and the frothy liquid in my stomach. I leaned up to kiss Justin’s lips and let this perfect moment be even better.

A squealing came from the door at the far side of the room and over the music, I could hear the clunk of the lock falling into place. Jason stopped the song with a tap on his tablet and jumped off the table to inspect the only door out of this room.

“What the fuck?” Justin said.

“The door done locked us in, pard,” Jason said as he twisted the wheel inlayed in the door as hard as he could.

“Well shit,” I said.

“Is there another way out?” Pan asked.

Justin stood up and went to help Jason open the door as I went to look for another way out.

“Well, there’s the hole,” Puck wandered over to her discovery and stared up at it. “It’s got to lead to somewhere.”.

Justin and Jason walked over to the Twins and me, sweaty from the exertion of trying to pry open the door. We all stared at the hole above us, the opening looking yonic and wet.

“Who’s going first?”Jason asked

“Fuck that noise.” Justin hit Jason in the arm.

“I’ll go,” I said.

Justin boosted me up; his strong hands felt good and warm. I touched the cloth with my fingers and was surprised to find it was silky and dry. I grabbed a fistful of the lining and heaved myself into the blackness above.

The darkness pressed against me as I climbed, the cloak of cloth sliding against me and reminding me of the soft skin of my grandmother. The fistfuls of cloth made it easier than I expected and within a few seconds, I’d made it to another opening. Blue light met me as I climbed out onto the deck above.

Something was wrong with the light, the way it shone off the walls and the shadows it made. I stepped from the hole, my arms tired from the strength I had to use to ascend. I looked around for what was making that strange blue light and came up empty.

“You okay?” Justin called from below, his voice muffled and far away.

“I’m fine. You keep trying the door, I’ll look for a way out.”

I looked around the room I was in, really taking it in for the first time. It was like the rest of the ship, all steel and devoid of anything comfortable. Beside the entrance, I’d come from was an old-looking sledgehammer and a panel that would just fit over the hole, with a box of bolts beside it. Across the room was a door, the same as the others but slightly ajar.

“I found something,” I called down to my friends. “I’ll be right back.”

I stepped toward the open door, the blue glow strengthening as I fully opened the door. Outside was a hallway that stretched out in both directions, the glow coming from the walls. The steel of the ship had turned wrong, the rivets holding it together placed at random. I felt cold; the warmth from Justin’s hands still lingered on my hips and made the chill of the hallway more noticeable.

“Hello?” I called. Something answered, its whimpering carrying softly down the hallway from my left. I shivered at the inhuman sound, and anxiety spread through my stomach. “Is someone there?” I asked as I crept towards the noise.

The hallway curved in front of me and within a minute the door I’d come from was lost behind blue steel. I dragged my fingers across the wall as I walked, the steady bump of rivets keeping my tipsy mind focused on the task at hand. In front of me the whimpers continued, and seemed to be getting closer.

I stopped my march. I’d lost track of how much time had passed since I started but it didn’t seem possible for this hallway to fit in the boat I’d seen at the beginning of the night. Drunk or not, this didn’t feel like a good place to be. I had to find a way out fast.

The wolf stepped from behind the curve in front of me. Fire dripped from its lips as drool, spilling onto the floor to settle between its huge paws. It growled and moved closer as I froze in fear; a small gasp escaped my throat. I stared into its eyes, pupils square and black, as it tilted its head to let out a howl.

The howl was returned. From all around me the sounds of a wolfpack rebounded and turned my knees into jelly. From behind the wolf came a pack, each one as otherworldly as the one in front of me. They growled and I turned to run.

My heart thudded in my ears as I ran the way I came, the wolves close behind. I could hear their great paws thudding on the steel, echoing my footsteps. My leg muscles began to seize up as the dancing and drink of the night caught up to me. My vision started to blur, just as I saw the doorway peek out from behind the curve ahead.

Teeth clamped into my thigh and I fell. Pain spread from the bite, cold fire and needles. I kicked out with my good foot and felt the soft impact as the wolf let go. I was only a few feet from the doorway and — if I could get it closed — safety.

I pushed myself up, my leg screaming, and bolted through the doorway. I tried slamming the heavy metal shut behind me but it refused to close, the metal warped. I dragged over the box of rivets and braced the door as the wolves slammed into it. It wouldn’t hold for long.

“Tessa! Are you okay?” Puck called from below. They were still trapped down there, waiting for me to come back with news of a way out. Justin was still down there and if I ran the wolves would follow. I couldn’t let that happen.

I lifted the plate that I’d found earlier, the holes drilled in it matching up perfectly with holes ringing the yonic entrance I’d entered from. It slid into place and I put rivets into the holes; each one fit snug. I grabbed the sledgehammer and lifted it above my head, the wolves behind me growling.

The metal clanged as I brought the hammer down, slamming a rivet into place. Slam, clang. Another one home as the door creaked and began to move. Slam, clang. The door burst open, the box of rivets spilled out and across the metal floor. Slam, clang. The final rivet hit home as the wolves hit me in the back and knocked the hammer out of my grasp. I screamed as the wolves fell on me, their hot breath stinking of rotten eggs and grass. I began to cry as I waited for them to tear into my throat but instead I felt the soft touch of a tongue against my cheek. A wolf licked away my tears.

“Tess, come down! The door’s open and you’re scaring me,” Justin called from below. The wolves raised their heads and let out a singular howl.

==========


I stumbled on the graveled shoulder of the road. My injured leg burned and throbbed. The last thing I remembered was the wolves howling as tears streamed down my face and then I was walking down the road to my house. I could almost believe it was all a dream except the blood still caked on my pants.

The first rays of dawn stretched across the sky as the cul-de-sac where my house was, came into view, the street empty save for two figures walking along the shoulder. I recognized them and started running. It was Jason and Justin. I didn’t know how, but I was glad.

I screamed his name as I ran, ready to hug him, kiss him, press my face into that ridiculous leather jacket he always wore. As I put my arms around him from behind, they passed through him and I felt them touch. He stopped and turned, his eyes wide.

“Jason. Did you feel that?”

“What?” Jason turned and looked around for what was bothering his friend.

“I felt really cold all of a sudden, like, really cold,” Justin said.

“Must have been the wind. Either that or you’re still in shock.”

I deflated, all of the joy I had a moment ago drifting off and replaced by dread.

“Justin?” I tried to say, but all that came out were whimpers. I collapsed to my knees and stared into my boyfriend’s eyes as tears started flowing. Then there was pain, all through my body. I reached out to him, my fingers shimmering and morphing as they brushed his shirt. I screamed but all that came from my throat was a dog’s whine.

“Come to me,” said a voice, and the sky glowed with the blue light from the corridor. The wind picked up, swirling my hair around my face and biting into my bare shoulders. I screamed and my voice became a howl, others joining in all around me.

“The fuck man,” Jason said,” We should get inside fast. The cops will be here soon and we don’t want to get eaten by the some wolf before that.”

Justin stood, staring at me, looking through me. I tried to reach out for him again but my hands were useless now, my fingers turned to pads. I felt heat in my mouth and the aroma of rotten egg mixed with grass engulfed me. I looked into Justin’s eyes and my tears dried up.

I turned and ran, the voice still calling and my boyfriend still waiting for something to happen.

 

__________________________________________________________

Holly Sophia McCrea is a poet, artist, and short fiction writer from Vancouver BC. She’s been published in The Drabblecast audio fiction magazine and currently has a chapbook available on amazon.

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372

Gentlemen Hecklers present Hackers

Comedy, Events, film

June 14, 2017

Throughout the dark decade we know call the nineties, Hollywood seemed mystified by this weird piece of technology called computers. They weren’t sure what computers could do, but they were sure old people were scared of them and young people seemed to love them. The result was a mixed bag of movies that tried to capture the essence of those fears: thrillers like the Net, Antitrust, and Enemy of the State showed conservatives their fears of big government and crime, making those conservatives push an agenda that resulted in big government and crime.

At the same time, Hollywood also festered titles like Harry Met Sally on the general public because America Online was a thing once upon a time and had a studio that could afford to make a movie that was basically a giant commercial. Hey, it worked for Nintendo, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are infinitely better than Fred Savage.

Never content to rest on their laurels, though, Hollywood also wanted to appeal to the kids who liked the whole computer thing. This resulted in the single most accurate piece of media regarding computers and the capabilities of the internet ever made, a little movie called Hackers.

Forget the thought-provoking questions asked by media like Person of Interest or the dedication to craft evidenced by Mr. Robot – Hackers embodied that sense of wonder we all had about what computers and internet meant. Computers and internet were going to save us from the forces of old and evil. We would Hack The Planet. We would rollerblade to victory to an awesome soundtrack and have confusing dreams about Angelina Jolie.

We would do everything in our power to end the evil that is Wall Street.

More interestingly, we knew that the forces of old would join the forces of evil in blaming us for trying to save them, so… culturally, this movie got it. It captures the essence of what being a kid in the nineties was, that neon sense of black-lit adventure and hope that would later be crushed and ground into nothing by a decaying world.

No wonder, then, that the Gentlemen Hecklers have decided to turn their attention to this film.

Fresh off their stint of writing for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 relaunch, Eric Fell, Shaun Stuart, and Patrick Mahlia return to the Rio Theater to crack down on one of the best worst movies ever made. For one night only, June 14th in the year 2017, the three of them will heckle greatness and we will all love them for it.

Doors open at eight, show starts at nine. You can buy tickets by clicking here, or pay $14 at the door. The choice is yours, but if you live in Vancouver? This is what you should be doing tonight.

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583

Review – Here I Stand: A Benefit + Awareness Show – Opera Mariposa

Culture, Events, Performance, Reviews

May 26, 2017

Review – Here I Stand: A Benefit + Awareness Show

I recently had the pleasure of attending Opera Mariposa’s “Here I Stand” benefit and awareness concert for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (ME/CFS & FM).

Soprano and Artistic Director, Jacqueline Ko, tells her inspirational story of living with ME/FM through a variety of musical theatre songs and opera arias with highly accomplished pianist Angus Kellet.

A big part of Jacqueline’s story is the chronic pain and emotional struggles born out of the many obstacles she has faced. That struggle was explored through carefully chosen songs and arias. The song “Anyone Can Whistle”, by Stephen Sondheim, was an insight into what it feels like to not be able to do normal things the way someone without ME/FM would.

So why not do extraordinary things? Jacqueline became an opera singer and started an opera company. She mentioned this with pride, and rightfully so.

I know how much work goes into putting on a show like this, but I was blown away when Jacqueline said she will spend months recovering from this one night. “You Learn to Live Without”, from If/Then by Tom Kitt, alluded to all the adjustments Jacqueline has had to make since she became ill at just six years old. Yet you can see how much joy singing brings to her life, and how it radiates to the other people around her.

Her musical numbers showcased how versatile her voice can be: delightfully sweet and intimate, yet also powerful and raw. It was a welcome surprise to hear her sing “Wait For It” (complete with an Opera Mariposa chorus) and “That Would Be Enough” from the highly acclaimed and very popular musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

However, two pieces were absolute standouts for me. “To This, We’ve Come” from The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti, requires a solid classical technique, while still conveying an utterly tragic frustration with how immovable bureaucracy can be to the disenfranchised. It’s chilling to hear Jacqueline sing lines like “I’m asking for help, and all you give me is papers” as she sings with her whole body and every ounce of emotion.

The second standout piece for me was “Elle a fui, la tourterelle” from The Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach. Jacqueline makes a quick joke about how she just had to sing this aria. It’s about a woman that is forbidden to sing because of her illness, but she sings anyway. I was very moved with how graceful, lyrical and resonant her voice was. It was as if the aria was written for her.

This concert was a unique experience, with a very important purpose. I’m grateful to have been there.

Photography by Diamond’s Edge Photography: https://michelledohertyphoto.smugmug.com/


Kathryn grew up in Vancouver as a proud geek & nerd. Her love of sci-fi led to her first big dramatic dream of becoming the blue alien from the Fifth Element. Instead, she graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree as an opera singer. She is also a regular photographer for various performing arts groups and recently has been most interested in fun boudoir & body positive photo shoots. You can contact her here.

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1313

Multiple Views: Geekenders’ Star Wars – The Empire Strips Back

Burlesque, Events, Showcase

May 22, 2017

Geekenders recently returned to the Rio Theater with an entirely rewritten script from the second of their Star Wars parodies for a remount. Three members of the Living Myth offices were invited to come in and take a look: CEO and founder, Aaron Golden, COO and head of everything, Anne Honeycutt, and newcomer Meghan Duffy. All three loved what they saw, though they came at their enjoyment from very different places.

 

Aaron Golden says: 

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back shouldn’t work.

Narratively, it looks like nothing happens: Luke leaves his friends and goes to a swamp, then goes to Cloud City and walks into a trap. Han and Leia and the rest leave Hoth, run from the Empire, run from the empire some more, and then get caught by the Empire. That’s it. That’s the movie.

And yet people seem to think it’s the strongest of the Star Wars films.

With only a bare scrap of plot, Empire has managed to carve a place for itself in the cultural consciousness, digging deeper than Episode IV did and only facing arguable competition for “Best of the Star Wars” movies by Rogue One.

The reason for this?

Character development.

Empire is nothing but character development. There’s enough nuance and subtext in that movie to make the first movie stronger and set the stage for Return of the Jedi and everything to follow. We learn how powerful the Empire is and that a single military loss isn’t going to slow them down. Luke learns about himself, his family, and the Force. Han and Leia develop an actual relationship that looks to end in heartbreak. Lando…

Lando is introduced and becomes one of the most subtle characters in the whole series. A con man forced into an untenable position, he tries to drive Han off through insults while not putting his city in danger. When the Empire betrays him he’s got plans and backup plans ready. He’s a perfect shade of gray, a character in the heart of Han Solo, and he adds complexity to an already complex series of relationships.

The problem with parodying Empire, then, lies in its threadbare story. This lack has haunted previous attempts to lampoon this movie, but Geekenders does the tale right by not only acknowledging the weak plot but outright attacking it while focusing on the main characters and giving them even more depth. This is a new, punnier script, and once the curtains go up and the text crawls up you know you’re in for some insanely funny sensuality.

Luke’s farm boy idiocy, his “I’m playing a barbarian and maxed out my charisma stat,” is in full effect here as Draco Muff-boi returns to the role with their usual charm and makes Luke irritably likable. Stephen Blakley adds a note of desperation to his relationship with Jayne Fondue’s regal Leia, creating balance in their relationship and making his world-weary sense of genre-savvy impossibly more wry.

R2DoubleD and David Ten-Inch add surprising pathos to the droids and Androsia Wilde plays Lando with all of the aforementioned complexity that the character deserves. Veronica Vamp slays as Darth Vader, Kitty Glitter is riotous as Chewie, and Lithium Little adds a touch of spiritual sexuality as Yoda, but it’s the comedic turn of Seamus Fit-It-In as Boba Fett that hit the audience out of nowhere, pushing the crowd into a fit if hysterical giggling.

This was perfect. The Empire Strips Back takes everything great about the source material and celebrates it while adding a unique spin to each character and giving everyone a moment to shine. Even the Storm Troopers have personality here, and every moment Susan the Storm Trooper is stepping out of line is an utter delight.

Geekenders returns to the Rio Theater with two performances of the Empire Strips Back on May 26th and 27th, with doors opening at seven and the show starting promptly at eight. The showing we saw was completely sold out, so you’ll definitely want to order tickets in advance, which you can do by clicking here. Tickets are $20 from the interwebs or $25 day of the box office.

Anne Honeycutt says:

I have said this before but I don’t think I will ever get tired of saying it, this is the best season Geekenders’ has ever had. It is not an easy feat to sell out The Rio theatre, and it is certainly not easy with doing a remount but the Geekenders Star Wars shows are an institution.

With a newly punched up script, revamped choreography and dazzling costumes the show has been transformed into a delightful geeklesque masterpiece. You can tell that they worked so hard on this and it has paid off. They have been tireless in their goals to make burlesque a safe welcoming experience for all involved. Risque but respectful humour; permission to explore and enjoy the human form in all shapes, sizes, creeds and ability; and above all else celebrating the spirit of rebellion from oppression one shimmy-shake at a time.

Meghan Duffy says:

You won’t find their number written in a bathroom stall, but if you are looking for a good time I would highly recommend Geekenders’ Star Wars Burlesque: The Empire Strips Back.

Somewhere over the roaring of the crowd, amidst the whistles and woos, the sound of my proverbial burlesque cherry being popped could be heard as I squealed with delight. It was a scream, a blast, a show I hoped would never end. Squishy feelings aside, I want to talk about the performers. This is a production where you can really feel the amount of dedication and hard work poured into it.

Spoiler – it’s a lot.

I really felt the passion, the love, and the joy from everyone who was on stage, regardless of how much time they spent up there. It was the epitome of heart and soul.

Vader’s performance is one that stands out to me. Played by Veronica Vamp, Vader’s act was one that will be hard to dominate. There is something to be said about seeing Darth Vader played by a drag queen strutting and bouncing across the stage to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”. Whatever that thing was, it seems to have escaped me as I was – and still am – totally lost in amazement.

Though I have to say my heart could not remain faithful this evening – among the fabulously sexy Stormtroopers, the smoldering Han Solo, the raunchy Chewbacca, there was R2D2 (Played by R2DoubleD). Bouncy, bodacious, beautiful R2D2. Gliding around the stage like some sort of sexy droid angel, equipped with roller skates for the entire performance – an impressive feat. The skates definitely added a special flavor to dance numbers and general background tomfoolery.

There is a scene where the song “Somewhere Out There” (as many of us know from An American Tail/Fievel Goes West, and part of me wishes they had used those versions) comes on, and it’s something special. As seriously as you can take a blue haired woman on roller skates whipping around with a gold-clad man in tow, this really tugged at my heartstrings.

Judging by the audience, it tugged them too. There were a few people around me singing along to the music, and I won’t lie, I did as well. There were quite a few songs to sing along to. Each number inspired a silent – and sometimes not so silent – cheer from me, the nostalgia is strong with this one. There was a perfect level of audience interaction that I found delightful, just enough to make it fun but the performance didn’t depend on it.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but make sure you get your throwing arms ready. The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was one small joke where C3P0 was compared to Sheldon Cooper, but then again I was never a fan of Big Bang Theory.

Overall this was a fantastic performance. A wild ride, much like a mechanical bull bucking ‘twixt your legs on a steamy Friday night.

All photos credit Pierre Chum

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588

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 30, 2017

It’s a cool night in late April, dark skies threatening rain, but we’re braving the weather to go to Granville Island and check out the latest offering from Toofly Productions, Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease. It’s a punny name being produced by a punny company and promises to be a punny burlesque take on the classic tale of a thief that robs from the rich and gives to the poor.

There’s something about this story that makes it persist – the idea of the rich stealing from everyone and giving to themselves has plagued western society since before the dawn of scarcity economics, and the tale of a man stealing from those wealthy thieves to give back, of fighting a corrupt system that steals everything and leaves no voice to the most helpless, is just as relevant these days as it has ever been.

So, we’re excited. Toofly is a recent invention, the dream of Alan Pronger. He wanted to create a means of producing the weirdest ideas he could find, of taking concepts too strange for other companies and making them reality. They’re a non-profit for emerging artists that specializes in exploring the absurdity of modern life.

This makes the Performance Works Theater a perfect venue for them – a place located on the tail-end of Granville Island, it was a machine shop that opened almost a hundred years ago and changed into a rehearsal and performance venue a little under thirty years ago. You might say the building’s purpose was stolen, it’s meaning gone for practical to absurd, and you would be right.

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease lives up the expectations set by both

The story takes quite a lot from the old Keven Costner movie with gender-flipped characters: Prince Joan has taken control of unspecified European country after hearing the news that King Richard and Robin of Loxley are dead. She kills Robin’s father, blinds his man-servant Winkin, taxes people into near death and spends all the money on himself. The opening set-up borrows as much from Game of Thrones as from its source material and is self-aware enough to call themselves out in, self-awareness being one of the best parts of Burlesque performances.

We then follow Robin as she escapes from BDSM land with the help of a Benny Hill sequence, meets Oddman Out, and the two of them travel together to get back to unspecified European country. They discover what’s happened in Robin’s absence, Robin recruits her people, and they start robbing from the rich and giving to the poor – but the conceit here is that everyone fights through dance, a thing that Robin excels at and Oddman Out doesn’t quite get. It makes for some cute sequences and story progressions and leads us up to the climax, where Oddman Out gets the final show-stopping number.

There’s some strong performances: anyone familiar with the Vancouver scene has seen Andrew Lynch perform, and his Sheriff lives up to the high standards his presence demands. Emily Pangburn’s Robin is graceful and cocky and her facial expressions are as perfect as the choice to cast her as the lead. Isabella Halladay’s Will Scarlet demands attention and earns it, and she’s got presence enough to make her every moment on stage count.

Of note is Katherine Alpen’s Winkin – this is her first burlesque and she carries herself with a refined dignity in almost every scene, acting as the narrator and liberally ignoring the fourth wall. She’s great. Joseph Spitale’s Mann Marian is an utter delight from start to finish, a clueless dude-in-distress caught between political machinations he has little understanding of. Finally, the dry delivery of Jennifer Doan’s Oddman Out makes her the conscience of the show and the person who grows the most, a quiet presence that shadows the rest of the story until she’s ready to take center stage in the final number.

All of the male performers took some serious risks here: Jared Arthur, Joseph Spitale, Kenneth Tynan, Matthew Fedorowicz, Andrew Lynch, and Rafael Ruiz did some amazing things with the material they were given and the routines they worked out, and fans of boylesque are going to love the things they do.

The script has some very clever one-liners about its source material, the limitations of the set, and the limitations of the stage. It criticizes itself – how do you have a Robin Hood show without bows and arrows?!? – and a strong opening sequence that sets the stage for what’s to come.

A handful of minor technical choices can be excused – with the amount of glitter being used, one wonders why we don’t just replace blood with the stuff? It would have made for a much more dramatic (in every sense of the word) performance. There’s also a beautiful silks performance that, while gorgeous, comes out of nowhere and adds nothing to the story as a whole.

Which segues nicely into one of the problems with Robin Hood: Prince of Tease – the writer promotes comedy over character and loses out on the chance for more comedy because of it. The pacing is a bit weird, and without strong enough character motivation we’re left cheering for people because of the source material rather than the characters as they stand here. Traits come out of nowhere and pay-offs come without build up, making them feel hollow.

Even worse is the queer-coded villains; Mann Marian being forced to marry the fabulous Sheriff and being in horror of it and then being rescued by the female Robin is played for laughs, sure, and there’s an attempted rescue of the concept with a gay marriage between Little John and Marian’s manservant, but it feels like a last ditch effort to cover a mistake. Marian’s efforts with Robin are stymied by sexual fluidity, which comes off as a bit of bi-erasure.

Neither issue is large enough to mar the performances or the show as a whole. We’d recommend seeing it – it’s funny and a good time and the few flaws are evidence of inexperience more than maliciousness. Toofly Productions is still maturing as a studio and will continue to do so – and if this is what they’re early efforts look like, well, we can’t wait to see where they end up.

A word of warning: if you are going to see this (and if you like musicals, burlesque, or Robin Hood, then you should), reserve a table. The Performance Works Theater has limited seating and looking for a place to sit can be difficult. We’d recommend trying to get a seat in the center aisle – there’s a shower sequence that happens towards the back at the end of the second act that you’re going to want an unobstructed view of.

You can learn more about Toofly by clicking here, more about Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease by clicking here or buy tickets by clicking here, and learn more about the Performance Works Theater by clicking here. The show runs from now until May 13, 2017, with each show starting at 8pm.

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560

Instant Theatre – The Actor’s Nightmare

Comedy, Events, Improv, Reviews

April 21, 2017

At the Havana Restaurant on Commercial Drive there lies a small black box style theatre space hidden at the back. This is where you will find players from Instant Theatre strutting their stuff. On the third Saturday of every month is when Instant improvisers and five guest actors bring you The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide!

As the title suggests, an actor’s nightmare is not knowing their lines, or worst, not knowing what play they are even in. This is exactly what happens in Actor’s Nightmare. Each improviser is paired up with a guest actor who will act out their memorized scripted lines. The improviser then must react to the scripted lines and make a cohesive-ish act. The result is a series of unexpectedly hilarious one act plays.

 

Allie Entwistle doing audience warm ups

 

The night began with host Allie Entwistle introducing the show with an explanation of what to expect and some fairly standard improv audience warm ups. The first actor-improviser pair, Abbey St. Brendan and Janet Davidson were then invited onto the stage. Janet started with asking for audience suggestion of an object: a whisk. The scene began with Janet whisking a bowl of something (a cake!) and Abbey’s Mary Aldin burst in exclaiming something about a murder in the house. The ensuing entertaining chaos of trying to find out who was murdered, who was the murderer, and how Janet’s character became an inadvertent accomplice had the audience in endless laughter. After the act was over, Abbey revealed that her scripted part was from Agatha Christie’s Toward Zero.

 

Abbey and Janet discussing a murder and cake!

 

 

Next was an original piece by Bennett Taylor and improviser Trang Nguyen. Trang’s 12 year old farm girl entered the scene with bucket of milk from their old cow, Betsy, and presented it to her father (Bennett) while contemplated whether the boy from next farm over would take her to the dance. We come to learn that Father worked as a cashier at a restaurant, Bob’s Big Ol’ Steaks. Unfortunately, Betsy succumbed to some sort of ailment involving a ball which resulted in a field full of cow blood.

 

Bennet and Trang investigating Betsy’s illness

 

Third set of the evening was a dramatic observation of bird behaviour by Vuk Prodanovic and Maddy Rafter as Captain and Miss Pennywise. This short half-improvised act started on a submarine, with the Captain’s overreaction to Pa, his seagull friend’s antics, but later was revealed that Captain and Miss Pennywise were criminals on the run. Criminals with a heart, having a heart to heart. There was also a giant heart in the sky, or possibly crows…? Vuk’s scripted part was from Urinetown: The Musical.

 

The second to last pair was Ella Berger as Niki (Curtains) and Mark Sears. The scene took place during intermission of a high school play, Macbeth: The Musical. Mark’s character, a drama teacher named Frank Gower was texting when Niki, whom Mr. Gower embarrassingly misnamed Amber multiple times, barged onto the scene. Niki was reluctant to replace the lead actress who fell off the stage and injured herself as Lady Macbeth. Revelations of death threats and forbidden romances followed, as Mr. Gower was trying to get someone to carry the injured girl off the front rows.

 

Ella and Mark having a crisis during “intermission”

 

Lastly, Julie Casselman and our erstwhile host herself, Allie Entwistle. Allie was given the audience suggestion of “a rack of watermelons”, and thus, Jacob the Watermelon Merchant was born. As the scene progressed, we learn that Mary Snow (Julie), a kumquat seller, and Jacob were once engaged, but Mary promised herself to Jerome since Jacob ran away a year ago. Apparently Jerome was quite the mansplainer and told Mary all kinds of things, such as all the pretty names of the moon’s mountains and valleys, and that bald men are very potent. Yes, potent. There was also a dog ghost. The act ended with Mary sliding her engagement ring off and making suggestive eyebrow movements at Jacob. Julie’s excerpt is from Salt-Water Moon by David French.

 

Julie and Allie at the watermelon rack

 

All in all, The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! was very entertaining and kept the audience in stitches, which is par of course for Instant Theatre improv shows. The scenes held up surprisingly well though it is not without a dash of chaos, but what’s improv without a healthy dose of entropy. I would highly recommend The Actor’s Nightmare if you are in the mood for some comedy on Saturday night.

The next showing of The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! will be on May 20th at 10:30 PM, tickets available here.

 


Eva Mak is a local producer, artist and lady about town. You can tweet at her @originalevamak 

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955

Geekenders’ Nintendance at the Odyssey

Burlesque, Culture, Events

April 18, 2017

It’s a warm Vancouver night, clear and expectant, and I’m walking towards one of the most storied venues in the city. The Odyssey was opened in 1987 and continues to operate as one of the city’s most prominent gay bars and that makes it the perfect spot for Geekenders to expand into.

A line had already begun to form at seven o’clock, the curious and familiar of both venue and troupe coming to see what the official mingling of both would result in. The answer was a smashing success, with a good crowd that was hot and ready for everything the Geekenders had to offer and a Geekenders crew fully prepared to take advantage of everything that their hosts had on hand.

People got settled, got drinks, got comfortable, greeted old friends and made new ones before the show began. The Odyssey provided a host of Nintendo-themed drinks and entertainment, including several iterations of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., letting the bar fill with classic remix video game tracks that set the stage for what was to come.

And what came? Veronica Vamp and the incomparable Stephen Blakley took the stage as Jesse and James of Team Rocket fame, accompanied by stage kitty Chantini. The two set an immediate rapport, riffing off the game and the cartoon and one another as they set the tone for the acts to follow with typical Geekenders flair.

Dee Luscious set things off as Bowser, King of the Koopas, prancing out to Amy Kurcharik and Friends’ Like a Boss and showing everyone that she had come up with an ironclad plan to finally conquer the Mushroom Kingdom: kidnap Princess Peach and put her in a castle. Dee made the stage her castle and every last audience member was captivated by her performance. It was a strong showing, equal parts funny and sensual, and it set things at ease and relaxed the crowd for whatever was to come.

With Princess Peach out of the picture, Jayne Fondue stepped up as Princess Daisy and let us know why she should be the new ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and not just Luigi’s heart. Rocking out to How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds, her facial expressions let everyone know that they were watching royalty – and when she came into the audience to thrum along with her loyal subjects, we were surprised to find her take someone on stage with her. This lucky player two was fed the freshest sort of block-fare, turned from another face in the crowd into the most famous plumber this side of Mario. The two of them stepped off, triumphant, and everyone’s heart went with them.

Artemis Lark had a difficult act to follow, but she managed. Coming out as the Kaepora Gaebora- the Great Owl from the Legend of Zelda games – she took a wild breath and claimed the space around the stage, flapping her wings and moving her head like an owl to Who Are You? by the Who, an inspired choice that Artemis turned into the ultimate audio/visual pun. Her facial expressions were, once again, perfect, and she became the show’s twilight princess as attention focused from performer to crowd.

The fine folks behind the upcoming Robin Hood: Prince of Tease were given a chance to strut their stuff while hosting the Geekenders costume contest. They’re performing an entirely gender-bent take on the classic fable and will be at the Performance Works on Granville Island from April 28th to May 13th. You can find out more by clicking here.

We were treated to two separate contests, a Nintendo-themed and a non-Nintendo themed follow up. A man wearing a full on Pikachu costume claimed the former, while the birthday-celebrating Draco Muffboi and companion Ginger Femmecat shared victory Hogwarts-bound Sailors Uranus and Pluto. Their victory was greeted with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sung at Draco, and a Happiest Birthday to you.

With that island of calm behind us, we returned to the world of burlesque with Kitty Glitter proving that everyone loves a dinosaur. Appearing as Yoshi, she gobbled down every last morsel of attention with a fun and energetic showing that had the Odyssey in good spirits and ready for more.

The crowd was rocking and rollicking and feeling the passion of that performance, and so we were treated to an intense tournament of that most skill based of challenges: rock paper scissors. Contestants were culled from the crowd, their glory to be claimed or lost on stage for all the Odyssey to see. The battle was fierce and the prizes for victory mighty, with the final winner taking home the Master Sword.

You could take that prize home, maybe. You should come to one of these shows.

Donna Jazz flounced on stage to bring us back to the show as Kirby. She started things innocent, with some light instrumental that led to a nice rendition of Don’t Put in Your Mouth, the songs following the action as Kirby, of course, ate something… and we all know that Kirby takes on the power of those that are eaten. The music was swallowed and so was Donna, allowing her to transform into a very different kind of dreamland resident, Beyoncé’s Partition marking this as the perfect song to sum up the stunning performance as a whole.

As Kirby ended, the King returned: one can’t keep a bad Koopa down, and one does not turn away from a second showing from their King. The debuting Johnny Wildcard eschewed the stage entirely, showing as incredible athleticism as he swung along and pole-danced to Ain’t no rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant. Johnny hit every beat perfectly, ruling the land and the world and making the Odyssey his kingdom, and by the time his performance ended and we had managed to pick our jaws up off the floor we were certain we had seen the show-stopping number.

We were wrong.

Saffron St. James flew out from Ottawa to take part in this show, donning the yellow cap and crooked mustache of Wario. She stepped on stage and, like Wario, was greedy for our attention – but unlike Wario, she knew how to hold it once she had it. Setting herself to Crown by Angel Haze, she brought the house down, a perfect presence that proved that majesty comes from so much more than a crown.

Jesse and James saw us off and kicked off a massive dance party mingled with video games and good times, as the crowd that was there stayed and new faces showed up. A good time was had by all, and Stephen Blakley gave us some magic as he took the stage to reprise the Han Solo routine from the Star Wars burlesque. What else was he going to do? Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger was playing. The Geekenders crowd knew what was up, and the new faces from the Odyssey clued in quickly.

Geekenders continues to break new ground and expand their venues and fanbase. This was an awesome show with a great turnout for a Sunday night, and there’s sure to be more to follow both at the Odyssey and elsewhere. We know for certain that the Geekenders are returning to the Rio this May the Fourth (and the Fifth~!) with Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back. For our new friends that saw tonight and want more, click here and grab some tickets.

You won’t be disappointed.

All photos provided for by Zemekiss Photography, who you can learn more about by clicking here. You should do so; Zemekiss Exanto is awesome people and will capture your event with class and skill.  

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Geeks Versus Nerds Vancouver Episode 33 – Outta This World – A beautiful tribute to the ’90s and Alien...

Comedy, Events, Reviews

March 30, 2017

It was announced earlier this year that Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver will be shuttering up this year only to see the light of day once in awhile during convention season. It will be sad to see a Vancouver institute of unbridled fandoms come to an end, especially after such a solid showing from the debaters for Geeks vs Nerds episode 33 “Outta This World!”.

The night started with Sonic vs. Spawn for the best mascot of the 90’s. With time-traveling past selves, marketing executives, and even a Spice Girl sighting, it was a hard-fought battle to decide a winner. In my own flipping from side to side, I was joined by one of the debaters’ 8yr old self, presenting an interesting way to argue for your hero, by arguing for the other hero more often. The tactic worked in their favor as Team Sonic sped away with the win as the best mascot of the 90’s. The can of Sonic energy drink and dunkaroo bribes must have clinched it.

The main event was Autobots vs. Crystal Gems  for ‘Which team of aliens best defends the earth from their own kind?’  Yes, it is a mouthful. The best kind of mouthful if you are going to name a debate about teams of aliens.

The Nerd side was strong with appearances from all of Steven’s parents and creator, facing off against the Geek team of a walking encyclopedia of Transformer facts, Les Grossman, and a super fan who seemed to have all the toys. I’ll give the Geek team a mention of really knowing their facts, but the presentation of such felt like regurgitated information, especially in an entertainment debate. The toys they brought though? Fantastic. It’s hard not to cheer though when the Nerd team busts out poetry, musical numbers, and Steven himself. With thunderous applause, the Gems captured the win, and many hearts.

A great night out and a ‘fan’-tastic experience.

 

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Jalyn Euteneier is a co-founder of ZeroD20, a gaming addict, and a fan of creativity. She is a sucker for discussions of community, inclusion, and mobile games, so if you are inclined to want to talk about that, find her on Twitter @CrazeeJay

 

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