[Victoria Fringe 2023] Is it Bad There’s New Earth Bandits? Welcome to the Future, If You’re Brave!

You’ll get plenty of exercise walking up and down the hills around Macauly Point Park to discover where the New Earth Bandits are hiding in SNAFU’s latest.

New Earth Bandits SNAFUFrom Interstellar Elder to Kitt and Jane (both shows I’ve seen and reviewed), The SNAFU Society of Unexpected Spectacles has an all new show! I’m not sure if they’ll tour this because it’s very site specific, but for anyone visiting Victoria, BC‘s Macaulay Point Park, they’ll be in for a treat! Here, their latest, New Earth Bandits, sends visitors (theatre attendees) to the future where a colony of humans, mutants, and animals kind of belligerently live together.

Also, I found space aliens! They didn’t join the visitors (theatre attendees) to figure out what’s going on. Instead, we’re told the year is 7023. In where we started, the portal to which everyone steps through takes us there and what’s presented is a glimpse of what may be this planet’s last dance, if we don’t change our ways.

What’s presented is very choose your own adventure around the park. Here, returning to see this show again is required to understand what’s happened to our world, why “The Professor” is important and who “The Traveller” is.

A Murder of Crows at New Earth Bandits
Photo by Helene Cyr Photography

If they aren’t significant, then I guess the crows have an even greater purpose that’s not defined by traditional mythology. They are often seen as harbingers of doom, but here, they’re protecting a macguffin, a Verdant Machine which I have to learn what it’s designed for.

As for where it’s hiding in the park, inside one of the stone forts or not (historically, this lookout was used by the military as a first point of defence during the war), I was determined to find it and get a photo. Unfortunately, the birds and other barriers prevented me from investigating areas I shouldn’t cross.

That’s okay, because when a Doc Brown (from Back to the Future) type of character distracted me, I stopped looking. I sensed he arrived here to observe the shape of things to come, H.G. Wells style. As for what happens to the two humans seen wandering around, using ape-like sounds to communicate, this time traveller hissed!

New Earth Bandits - An Eagle and a Shaman
Photo by Ed Sum

While some narratives are fixed, others are more loose in its exposition. The crows behave like crows, and the costumes designed for not only them but also other supporting characters are fantastic. I was swept away by the illusion, thinking these mutants and hybrids are indeed anthropomorphic. Had I looked much more carefully, there was a Shaman and Wizard wandering around too! Unfortunately, I didn’t find either when following the paths while deciding where to go next. I’ll have to track both down should I make the time to catch New Earth Bandits again!

In some ways, I’m sure the playwrights took a few pages from Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. The plural is intentional, since everyone in the performing troupe contributed to shaping the story. But I sensed some Fern Gully along with The Planet of the Apes’ original tetralogy as well. To be specific, Conquest of The Planet of the Apes weighed heavily on my mind when I was figuring out what the Verdant Machine represented. Rather than going the way of that third film about worshipping the bomb, the environmental message about returning elements to the Earth is clear. Unless humanity in our present doesn’t clean up its act, the planet is doomed.

As a result, New Earth Bandits is an experience rather than a trip through Wonderland. The Crows react much like they would have been in a Studio Ghibli film. After what I recall from the stage production of Spirited Away, what SNAFU did with this murder of crows certainly one upped the Japanese play. They stole the show by coming together to form an enormous face and then splinter apart.

Because this play starts at about 6:45 pm till dusk, I was a bit sad that the setting sun wasn’t fully incorporated. It’d be perfect had the old battlements been positioned better so that patrons can watch it sink in the background during the last act–with details I won’t spoil. Alas, to incorporate that a natural passage of time would’ve been very tough! At least I knew that when I heard the gong, it signalled something. Although that moment would’ve made that finale all that more Arthurian (being “escorted” to Avalon), it was still moving. Instead, what’s felt is more than just another Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

To buy tickets, please visit Intrepid Theatre’s listing of the show here.
Personal Photo Gallery Coming soon! (Stay tuned)

Remaining Shows

  • Aug 30 06:30 pm
  • Aug 31 06:30 pm
  • Sep 01 06:30 pm
  • Sep 02 06:30 pm
  • Sep 03 06:30 pm

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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