Rebecca Perry takes us to Tanzania this time out.
ADVENTURES OF A REDHEADED COFFEESHOP GIRL by Rebecca Perry (Perry/Fringe). Annex Theatre. July 3 at 10:30 pm, July 4 at noon, July 5 at 5:45 pm, July 6 at 8:30 pm, July 7 at 12:30 pm, July 8 at 11 pm, July 12 at 5:45 pm. See listing.
Fans of last year’s quirky hit musical-comedy Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl will be happy to hear that Rebecca Perry has brewed up a fresh sequel. This time her anthropologically inclined Annex java jockey, Joanie, ditches the daily grind to pursue her dream job: studying chimpanzees at the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania.
Last time, Joanie was stuck in a rut, using her training in primatology to humorously analyze the behaviour of her customers and eventually falling in love with one of them. This time, she’s across the ocean and off the grid, working with fellow scientists to find human qualities in chimps – all while struggling with being apart from her new boyfriend.
“A lot of stories end with someone getting what they want, but we never see how they follow through,” says Perry over the phone. “My goal this time is to dramatize that fight-or-flight reaction when Joanie’s given the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Perry points out that, although Joanie’s character is based on her own life and interests, this episode required some additional research.
“I’ve worked in a coffee shop, but I’ve not worked at the Jane Goodall Institute in Africa,” she says, laughing.
“What’s great is that I had the opportunity to interview a lot of scientists who have. Just like the last instalment, this one has one foot in reality and one foot in magical realism. It’s meant to be fun and silly, but I also wanted the institute to be realistic.”
In addition to playing all the human characters, as she did last time, Perry will also be portraying chimpanzees.
“It’s also about the chimps’ stream of consciousness and how they react to humans. [Director] Matthew Bernard and I did lots of physical exploration of how chimps move – you’ll definitely see me on all fours scratching my head.”
The new batch of original songs will stay true to the indie-folk stylings of the first show while also incorporating African sounds.
“I’ve got a foley artist, a percussionist and a piano player, and we’ve worked really hard to create some soundscapes and moments that are authentic to Tanzanian culture.”
After premiering this sequel, Perry will debut Confessions at the Edinburgh Fringe.
“I’m over the moon. We’ll be in the same theatre as Russell Brand. I’m excited to take it to the land of the redheads!”
And Joanie’s adventures won’t end in Africa. Perry says she’s always envisioned a Redheaded trilogy.
“There’s always been a third installation, but the way the second one turned out, I surprised myself with how I steered the plot. I honestly can’t tell you what happens next, but there’s a pretty big hint at the end of this one.”