Theatre review: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman

Vancouver Fringe Festival

To Sept. 17 | Various venues

Tickets & Info: $14 at

Women definitely rule at the 2017 Fringe but not all their stories end happily. This day’s fringing took me to three shows by and about women facing challenges of various kinds.

Almost a Stepmom at Arts Umbrella

Keara Barnes moved to Ireland where she fell in love with Joe, a self-described Man United-aholic. She also fell in love with Joe’s sweet six-year-old daughter, Aoife. So far so good.

But Joe shared custody with Aoife’s mother, an angry, boozy, bitchy princess who became insanely jealous of the woman who had taken her place. ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’ (as Barnes calls her) set out to make Keara’s life a living hell.

This is your most basic Fringe show: a single performer on a bare stage re-enacting an episode from her own life. Barnes has been touring Almost a Stepmom for a while and has it polished to a shine. A very good actor, she switches quickly back and forth among her three principal characters and herself plus a kindly old neighbour, each with a distinctive voice, posture and Irish accent.

Her story is compelling and the storytelling funny, dramatic and sympathetic. Though SWMNBN is a monster, Barnes even manages to find a modicum of sympathy for her in the tale.

It’s a tale not so much of woe as of almost. Because “sometimes, devastatingly, love just isn’t enough.”

Her Name Was Mary plays at Studio 16 as part of the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, which runs until Sept. 17. Photo courtesy of Adam Blasberg. [PNG Merlin Archive]
Adam Blasberg, PNG

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Her Name Was Mary plays at Studio 16 as part of the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, which runs until Sept. 17.

Her Name Was Mary … at Studio 16

Devastatingly, love isn’t enough in Tai Amy Grauman’s bittersweet autobiographical play either. Her Name Was Mary… dramatizes a doomed friendship between two adolescent girls.

Amy (Emily Wilson) struggles with her weight while anorexic Mary (Sachi Nisbet) drops to 60 pounds. Ironically, we learn early in the play, Mary died at 15 in a car crash.

In a series of chronologically scrambled snapshots intercut with a long dream, the girls talk about boys and sex, their periods, the humiliations of adolescence and their love for each other.

But mostly they talk about eating

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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