POCHSY UNPLUGGED (Canada) created and performed by Karen Hines, directed by Sandra Balcovske and John Turner. Presented by Keep Frozen: Pochsy Productions at the Studio Theatre, York Quay Centre (235 Queens Quay West). April 20 and 23 at 9 pm, April 21, 22 and 24 at 7 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Karen Hines's creation, Pochsy, is the living incarnation of an oxymoron. Cruelly self-centred yet innocent, naive yet flirty, Pochsy offers us a shot of comedy with a mercury chaser.
She first appeared in the 1992 Fringe, but though Hines has toured her shows throughout North America, we haven't seen a local Pochsy production since 1993.
She's bringing the wide-eyed, kewpie-doll egomaniac back in Pochsy Unplugged, which draws on material from three earlier pieces. Published, the writing earned her a Governor General's Award nomination.
One of my favourite pieces deals with the overseas foster child whom Pochsy adopts. She can't pronounce the child's name, and later apologizes when she tells us that her last donation cheque bounced: "I've been super-busy lately."
"That's the quintessential, dark Pochsy," agrees Hines, who's written the play Hello... Hello, has an impressive acting resumé (Angels In America, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Newsroom) and directs the Mump and Smoot shows.
"Pochsy walks the razor-sharp edge. Absolute in her belief that she's doing the right thing, she wreaks destruction carrying it out."
Material like this frequently divides the audience. Some think it's hysterically funny; others scowl at the laughers.
"But it parallels the division people have within themselves, laughing or getting queasy," explains the performer.
Pochsy grew out of Hines's unwieldy idea of developing a character who was a microcosm of the world.
"I narrowed her down so that now she embodies only a single continent," laughs Hines. "Pochsy's a representative of North American consumer society. Collectively, we're destructive as well as loving. I can use just about any news event as material."
This year's World Stage festival proves that one isn't the loneliest number. Subtitled Flying Solo, it features more than 20 one-person productions from around the globe. For the first time ever, the whole fest takes place at a single locale - Harbourfront Centre. And you can’t beat the $25-or-less ticket price. Here’s NOW’s spotlight on some of the best of the fest.
The World Stage Flying Solo festival, a three-week international theatre, visual arts and literary fest presented by Harbourfront Centre at various venues on Queens Quay West. (See NOW's related listings sections for specific events.) Runs to May 1. Mainstage shows $25; Kafka And Son $15; International readings $8; some events free. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/worldstage.