[Victoria Fringe Festival ’16] Space Hippo World Tour & Review

The Roxy Theatre
2657 Quadra Street

Mon Aug 29 – 9:30pm
Tue Aug 30 – 6:00pm
Sat Sep 3 – 8:00pm
Sun Sep 4 – 9:15pm

Continues at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival starting September 8th at the Waterfront Theatre. 

Mochinosha / The Wishes Mystical Puppet Company is back at this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival hosted by Intrepid Theatre, and they have crafted an original tale that, like their past shows, brings their wonderful shadow puppetry to the big screen. Space Hippo offers space opera and camp ala Irwin Allen. I’m specifically thinking of the later years of Lost in Space when it aired in colour than in black and white. In this production, there’s a blend of both to give the show a unique air of vibrancy. A lot of storyboarding was required to work out Space Hippo’s journey and I only hope there is more. This intelligent creature was recruited by the best minds of Earth to send into the cosmos to avert Earth’s destruction from aliens —and find her baby.

The team of Daniel Wishes and Seri Yanai spent a lot of time cutting, if not crafting each piece of paper used to have its silhouette projected to the screen. I’m amazed at the amount of detail put into these items. I think this show surpasses their past productions like Oni and Hitodama (the links provided go to my past reviews). These shows had a bit of raunchiness that’s more suited for a PG-13 crowd and for this cinematic marvel, it can be enjoyed by everyone! Wishes said this play will be headed to Japan, where their roles will be reversed; Yanai will be the principal narrator and he will be providing the sound effects and supporting roles. For updates, please visit their website for upcoming shows.

20160827_182825In the North American and European tour, audiences will thrill to Yanai’s voice as I have. Much like many a child’s program seen on Nippon TV, the enthusiasm found in her voice is infectiously adorable. I get a thrill to hearing her intone many onomatopoeias, and her liveliness brings out the kid in me. Wishes has the bigger job of providing the narrative and he gets into the manly narrator role easily. I feel like Fred Savage from The Princess Bride, where I’m hippo-tized and I want to say, “Tell me more!” I don’t want this story to finish and I’m okay with the kissy bits (there weren’t any). I love this anthropomorphic world this company has produced, and it’s filled with fascinating characters ranging from a crafty food robot, voracious lizard men and mindful Hippo Goddess from Ancient Egypt, Taweret!

I have a huge enthusiasm for this culture, and my eyes lit up when I saw more than just a simple mention to this Mistress of the Water. She is the goddess of childbirth and fertility, and her role in this production is important enough to make me want to go back to see this show to catch all the plot details I missed. The story is textured with a lot of nuances to make it enthralling, charming and delightful. The humour is spiced in ever so slightly to make the tale feel like it should belong in the world from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The music is the perfect complement to this pop-up magic book world The Wishes Mystical Puppet Company created. Elliott Loran composed the music to this production and both this play and the songs brought me back to the days I grew up watching CBC’s The Friendly Giant. That’s no easy feat, and that alone makes this play worthwhile for all to see.

5 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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