click here for more information



subscribe to our mailing list: enter your email address in the box and click
on "send":



preview image
by Kendra Fanconi and Eric Rhys Miller
The Only Animal
Performance Works, Granville Island
Jan. 26-Feb. 4
604-215-8248 or

Kendra Fanconi and her company, The Only Animal, have created some of the best shows of the past few years, including Other Freds and especially The One That Got Away, and in the process have helped define the current west coast revolution in site-specific theatre. Their current show, staged inside a conventional theatre space, attempts some unconventional story-telling but it mostly fails.

The visually striking set, designed by Colin Cooper, Fanconi, and Naomi Sider, consists of a variety of objects floating in a void: a chair, a broom, part of a broken bannister.  We soon learn that this is some of the detritus left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, in particular the ruined home of Clementine (the excellent Vanessa Richards), an African-American woman who tells us her harrowing and affecting story.  We also meet a Hispanic man in prison (Parnelli Parnes, also very good), and after a while—though his story is much less clear—we realize that he too has lived through the hurricane.

There are three other characters—an optimistic tavern owner (Derek Metz), a harried single mother with two young kids (Tanya Marquardt), and a demented sasquatch hunter (Eric Rhys Miller)—whose separate narrative arcs ultimately converge with those of the other two characters.  And along the way a dog is literally eaten.

I have three major problems with this show.  First, none of the stories but the hurricane victims’—mainly that of Clementine—is at all compelling.  Second, having five actors on stage who never talk to each other for most of the play but instead address invisible secondary characters is just frustrating—an inefficient use of  a good cast and a poor strategy for theatrical story-telling.  If the show wants to be a monologue, let Vanessa Richards do her thing and save the other salaries. Third, the invisible characters addressed—kids, a dog, prison guards—“answer” via sound effects created live in a large stage-right studio by William Moysey.  Most of them sounded like Tinkerbell to me, and the result is more annoying than entertaining or illuminating.

You can’t win ‘em all.  I look forward to The Only Animal’s next one, at Presentation House later this spring.

Jerry Wasserman