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.
Virginia Jack is an improvised play in 40 minutes performed by the comedy duo of the same name. Taking a single suggestion from the audience, performers Briana and Sean create a realized world to play in.
The energy of the show is like playing a game with friends – if your friends were professional storytellers. The play starts with the audience yelling locations that the play will take place. This night’s show happened to be in a “Russian-American Moon Base”.
Initially, the problem is the old station, which then turns into an alien invasion
From here, the game starts by narrating setting, characters and their various quirks: Steve, a dimwitted scientist, Betty, the uptight traditionalist, and Yuri, a retired fighter pilot. Details mentioned in the beginning – such as Yuri’s introversion – become referenced throughout the play, making the characters feel consistent, with their own personality, body language and motivations.
The actors switch roles at any minute with a hand motion. This is especially entertaining when an actor is playing two conversing roles. The closed-off nature of the location made for static movement – but redeemed by enthusiastic dialogue.
Though improvised, Virgina Jack follows a traditional story arc; a status quo being interrupted by an outside force. Initially, the problem is the old station, which then turns into an alien invasion, which then turns into the reveal of Betty being an assassin all the whole time.
I expected this crowded plot to crash and burn – but our lunar heroes pull through. The first two points intended to distract from the attempted hit on Steve, tying everything nicely in the end. This “act then justify”, style is like watching Bob Ross splash seemingly random splotches of paint until it becomes a gorgeous waterfall. It’s magic.
I would recommend Virginia Jack to anyone who enjoys improv but unfamiliar with the beautiful chaos of long-form.