[Victoria Fringe Festival ’15] The Wyrd is Nine! A Review

29 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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VENUE:
Metro Studio Theatre
1411 Quadra St.
Victoria, BC

PERFORMANCE DATES:
Aug 28th | 6:45 pm
Aug 30th | 5:45 pm
Sept 1nd | 10:00 pm
Sept 4th | 7:15 pm
Sept 5th | 9:15 pm
Sept 6th | 5:15 pm

LENGTH: 45 minutes

Not to be confused with other variations (the Canadian band of the same name or Terry Pratchett’s sixth Discworld novel), The Wyrd Sisters by DamnSpot Theatre is an all new take on William Shakespeare’s seminal trio of witches or soothsayers who have appeared in various works. Whatever they are called, these ladies of the mystic arts do more than manipulate the men this playwright is casting as the ‘hero.’ From Caesar to Macbeth, just what tugs at the heart of these soldiers are not their ability to cajole their heart, but rather in how Fate can be cruel.

What drew me out to this show Friday night was in my curiosity to see how minimalist theatre will interpret these characters. In how I interpreted this show, they represent the Moirai — Atropos, Lachesis and Clotho. In other cultures, they are known as the Norns and conveniently enough, in Anglo-Saxon world, they are known as the Wyrd. When my knowledge of ancient mythology surpasses what I know about Shakespeare’s works, just what I was looking at was in how the their role as archetypes are played up. Sorry, Will, but Joseph Campbell is king of my literary world.

With this show, just how the three ladies are represented across different plays had me wondering about their role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream — which there was not enough of. For some parts of the show, I wished they were more connected to the Fae than the Crones. They are fittingly haunting on stage, and the sound design of the pre-recorded vocal tracks gave the Wyrd Sisters a terrific omnipresence. Their supernatural presence is nicely represented when these women are lip syncing their lines as it’s broadcasted from the overhead speakers.

The music (which included a mix of contemporary, hip hop and grunge) was quite intense. Sometimes the volume level was loud, and I just had to wonder if the original score used overshadowed the performance. There was a few rough spots in the choreography where the trio was not in perfect sync. That will no doubt be ironed out in later shows. At least, when the entire team, which included Nicholas Yee and Jack Hayes as the “victims (i.e. Caesar or Macbeth)” are on stage, the effort to see everyone dance is better coordinated. The fun parts were in how the team is not always looking at each other for cues when the puppet mistresses are pulling the invisible strings. There were times I was wondering if the Pinocchio song, “I’ve Got No Strings” will get played. Fortunately, that was not used, otherwise it would have ruined this play’s ancient premise.

I enjoyed the part when Yee did a few swift Martial Arts kicks. That moment was left field, and I was fine with it. Jack Hayes complemented Yee on stage, and the three sisters — played by Colette Habel , Nicola Whitney Griffith, and Victoria Simpson — have a promising future in the dance medium. Most of them are graduates from the University of Victoria’s Theatre Program, and I suspect this Fringe show is a ceremony so they can tell the world that there’s a new act in town. Just how well this show will be received can be just as fickle as the Fates who spin the Thread of Life. There’s more than one path to achieve success, and to see what’s next for this group will be worth tracking.

3½ Stars out of 5

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