Fu-GEN 's second Potluck Festival , a mini-fest within Factory Theatre 's annual CrossCurrents Festival , drew a full house last weekend to catch the work of half a dozen budding Asian-Canadian playwrights. As with last year's inaugural Potluck, we were introduced to a group of talented writers and performers, many of whom we hadn't seen before.
In an impressive array of scripts, the writers - Byron Abalos , David Eng , Christina Florencio , Stephanie Law , Christine Miguel and Norman Yeung - looked at subjects like traditional culture, family, being part of a larger society and how the past impinges on the present.
Standouts included a pair of works that dealt with the conflicts between Old World fathers and New World sons, Yeung's Pu-Erh and Abalos's Remember Lolo , both of which blended English text with Chinese (Yeung) and Filipino passages (Abalos) in emotionally rich works.
If you didn't catch them at the Potluck, don't worry - they're both part of this August's SummerWorks Festival .
We were also struck by Florencio's Jeepney , which alternated monologues by a five-year-old Manila schoolgirl and the same character at 25, now a Canadian with a voracious sexual appetite. The script's climax is melodramatic, but Caroline Mangosing 's performance was the most impressive of the evening.
CrossCurrents , a play development program and showcase with national scope, encourages new voices and works by writers of colour. It continues through Saturday (April 16), with readings of scripts by Kenneth Williams , Catherine Hernandez , Andrew Moodie and Lesley Ewen . All are pwyc. See listings, page 88, for details.
Caught the tasty opening night of Hot Lips, Cold Cuts , the Boiled Wieners ' weekly sketch show, on every Saturday in April at the Alley Theatre. After a strong opening act by refreshing sketch duo the Gurg , the local trio delivered a short set that started off quite strong but soon petered out.
In the opening bit, Ben McLean and Paul Snepsts play hockey fans who berate a listless goth cheerleader ( Melanie Hunter ) who then slits her wrists and sucks her blood. It's an edgy, unpredictable sketch that goes to a dark place quickly and never lets up.
Amiable physical comic McLean returns in another less edgy sketch about a snake charmer who tries to draw a snake out of a basket. Sweet and old-fashioned.
The next sketch, performed to the first of many songs, shows off the troupe's emotional range. It's a clever look at relationships, with Snepsts and Hunter singing a tuneful duet about having sex on the beach and revealing a ton of truths about the sexual negotiations and compromises of straight couples everywhere.
And a couple of sketches later, the trio get together for a surreal bit about the medieval origins of the game Rock, Paper and Scissors. It's smart, silly and cleverly staged.
From here, the show goes awry with a confusing bit about an immigrant superintendent who works in the gay village, and an obvious, one-laugh sketch about an uptight woman who strips at an amateur night.
A recurring audio segment about a radio station that caters to women continues this possibly misogynistic theme, which is further developed in one of the last sketches, with Snepsts and McLean imitating the 70s group Hall & Oates obsessively singing Man Eater for the soundtrack of a Lion King movie sequel.
Unlike the beginning, the comic targets aren't clear here, and the show ends on an anticlimactic note.
It's almost Mae
Also caught the April 2 performance by two of the youngest stand-ups in the country - teens Mae Martin and Sabrina Jalees . The two have come a long way in a few years, but they're still a bit undisciplined and searching for their voices.
Martin's best at delivering dry, self-effacing stories about her life, while Jalees is the more extroverted clown, excellent at ad libbing.
Standout bits included Martin's tale about a homemade punk girl in BC and Jalees's segment about dancing in a nightclub.
The two-act show was bookended by songs about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's breakup, but Martin and Jalees failed to convince us why this was such an important pop culture moment. When they have that figured out, they'll be on their way to becoming better, more confident comics.