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by Jacob Richmond
Vancouver Fringe and Atomic Vaudeville
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
November 1-19
$25/$20 at 604-257-0350

The team that brought us the best show at the Fringe is back.  Playwright Jacob Richmond, director Britt Small, performer Celine Stubel and Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville company were behind the gloriously smart and funny Fringe hit two-hander Legoland.  Now Richmond plays the lead in a cast of six in the Atomic Vaudeville/Vancouver Fringe production of his play The Qualities of Zero, with Small back at the helm and Stubel reduced to a minor-ish role. Though not quite the revelation Legoland was, this show, too, is smart and entertaining, slickly directed, and very well performed.

Richmond plays Roland, a nutty neuro-scientist who develops a serum that neutralizes emotions, a serum he regularly injects into his neck.  You can see why he’d want to be able to control himself, surrounded as he is by problems and temptations: a crazy brother (Jeff Gladstone), an overwrought colleague who has it in for him (Michael Delamont), the colleague’s sexy wife, also Roland’s boss (Gina McIntosh), a wacko neighbour (Rod Peter, Jr.), and his lovely lab partner (Stubel), to whom Roland is intensely attracted, but thinks he doesn’t want to be.

Much chaos ensues, with director Small impressively controlling the traffic and choreographing terrifically clever transitions, especially via a rotating door.  The performances are all very fine, with Richmond’s lurching deadpan Roland the standout.

Smart is the operative word here: the comedy, the direction, the performances all manifest a theatrical intelligence that really stands out in our current theatrical environment.  I can hardly wait to see the next show from these folks.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Monday, November 13, 2006 1:11 PM
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