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Box of Freedom @ Vancouver Fringe Festival

Vancouver Fringe Festival runs every year in September. This year, we sent some of our student contributors out to explore some of the festival’s offerings and review it for us. Productions ranged from dance to improv – many unique to the festival. You can browse their website here.

Three refugees held up in a shipping container attempt to entertain themselves through the perilous journey. This feeling was accurately depicted in Box of Freedom.

Sonia Suvagau delivers manic honesty portraying Dora; comedienne fleeing a Romania violently transitioning from Communism. She maintains her sanity through stand up performances, with the audience playing a part in her fantasy.

Her two mates on this journey are a wild young man, Alex, and a cautious, older women, Gabriela. The delivery was blunt and unapologetic – but a lot of lines felt over the top.

Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to be.

Prudes beware because cursing, violence and sex are abundant in this production. Especially in the B Plot, where we see Dora’s past through a series of flashbacks. This plot is confusing, takes up half the play and feels completely unnecessary in understanding Dora’s character. These scenes are confusing; side characters that do not make their role, lines unclear to the audience. A lot of dialogue is filled with profanity that feels excessive and unnatural.

The over-the-top conflicts of the hold felt real in their pettiness.

The direction distracts me from the setting of 80’s Romania – like western clothing or mentions of Canadian pop culture. The protagonist switches outfits for a flashback scene and remains in that outfit in the present – for no apparent reason!

Sound direction is ambitious, with sound effects present throughout to take us to the setting, sometimes being too loud or too dramatic to be effective.
The stage design was great, the actors using and shaping it as their home, making actions and choices even in the middle of b-plot sequences. The over-the-top conflicts of the hold felt real in their pettiness.

At times, I felt that I too was locked in an uncomfortable space, anxious for something new – but the characters found ways to keep the performance fresh and entertaining.