Vancouver Fringe 2022 Review: Outstanding Online Offerings

The 2022 Vancouver Fringe Festival has begun! Besides the usual live performances, this year’s line-up includes a small handful of online-only events. These digital performances are perfect for when you want to spend a night on the couch, but still take in the delights of British Columbia’s largest theatre festival.

From the sharp-witted satire A Buzz in Your Hub to complex explorations of memory and diaspora in SELL ME: I am from North Korea and the mesmerizing multidisciplinary piece Domestic Haunting, there’s something for everyone. We break down what to expect from this year’s offerings of digital drama.

A Buzz in Your Hub

Vancouver Fringe - A Buzz in Your Hub
Vancouver Fringe – A Buzz in Your Hub

A Buzz in Your Hub: Entrepreneurial Strategies for the Late Capitalist Death Spiral is written by Heather McLean, Nakuset Gould, and Chris Bose. This is one professional development seminar you don’t want to miss!

The webinar is led by influencer and thought leader Toby Sharp (McLean). Special guests include Indigenous wresting coach and real estate developer Donny Dreamcatcher (Bose) and Indigenous health food beverage entrepreneur, magic mushroom expert, and vocal polyamorist Skus Akwisn (Gould).

This hilarious satire takes aim at the corporatization of reconciliation, psilocybin-toting tech bros, and the wellness industry with irreverent, cutting wit. A Buzz in Your Hub includes silly slide shows (complete with mock-ups of mycelium “condos”) and video presentations, but the banter between McLean, Bose, and Gould is the real highlight. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud so much in thirty minutes. They all lean into the mockery with obvious delight—and impeccable comedic timing.

Get ready for an unflinching comedy that lampoons the housing crisis, pipelines, and the climate emergency. Hate Zoom webinars and corporate buzz words? This one’s for you.

SELL ME: I am from North Korea

Vancouver Fringe - SELL ME: I am from North Korea
Vancouver Fringe – SELL ME: I am from North Korea

Sora Baek is astonishing in this harrowing and emotional piece based on the true stories North Korean women defectors. Written by Baek and directed by Jaimie Van Dyke, the solo performance follows a teenage girl who decides to sell herself to a wealthy Chinese man. She’s hoping to pay for her mother’s medications and escape the poverty of her home country, but things don’t quite go as planned.

A nearly-empty stage and minimal props keep the focus on Baek. She enters the performance space with a single, heavy trunk, symbolizing the “baggage” of trauma and memories that North Korean defectors carry with them. The sparseness of the stage also reflects Baek’s character’s desperation. She takes nothing with her across the river to China except her will to survive and help her mother at any cost.

SELL ME: I am from North Korea isn’t for the faint of heart. It is heart-wrenching portrait of girlhood and the horrors of coming of age in a world ripe with gendered violence. But those looking for a theatre experience that lingers long after the stage lights go down won’t be disappointed.

Domestic Haunting

Vancouver Fringe - Domestic Haunting
Vancouver Fringe – Domestic Haunting

This short but sweet multidisciplinary piece combines dance, movement, digital recording, and audio. Written and performed by Nevada Banks, Brodie Nicholls, Poland Piers, and Cailin Stadnyk, Domestic Haunting is tense and captivating. The thoughtful nine-minute performance uses lines from romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, classic films like Gone with the Wind, and pop songs to explore how popular culture reinforces gender norms.

The art we consume as entertainment shapes how we relate to ourselves and others. The audio encourages the viewer to consider how media and technology bring expectations surrounding gender roles and relationships into a domestic space.

At first, the masked dancers’ movements are charged with desire and romance. But unmet expectations mount. As the domestic drama plays out, the atmosphere between the performers becomes tense. This emotional and energetic piece will have you looking at your television in a whole new way.

 

Vancouver Fringe 2022 runs from September 8 – 18, 2022. Festival memberships and tickets are available at https://www.vancouverfringe.com/.