Spark Festival review: Oh My Irma

Haley McGee creates and inhabits a brilliant character in Oh My Irma

haley McGee is the awkward Mission Bird in Oh My Irma, playing at the Belfry Theatre's Spark Festival of new works until March 17.

haley McGee is the awkward Mission Bird in Oh My Irma, playing at the Belfry Theatre's Spark Festival of new works until March 17.

 

For some time, if someone approached me on the street and wanted to talk, I would. Conversations could be about anything from the weather, to sports talk, to a local eyesore.

Sometimes, though, the conversation would take my breath away with its sudden profoundness. Often living on – or close to – the streets, these people could invoke images and quote poetry and touch one’s heart.

Mission Bird, the lone character in Haley McGee’s Oh My Irma, reminded me of one of these people. McGee has created, and inhabits, a brilliant character — a modern-day seer — that speaks in curlicues and beat poetry and visions. And that speaks of the blood that flowed from her friend Irma, whose fate drives this narrative.

McGee’s script moves with the help of a torrent of verbs and nouns. Mission Bird’s story is filled with things that spike, scratch, flow, ooze and pulse. Her performance does not capture the character so much as step aside and make way for the flood. During the performance, I kept thinking “If Captain Beefheart had a granddaughter…” or “If the Beat Movement had Riotgrrls in their midst…”

Alisa Palmer directed in a way that facilitated the birth of an awkward beauty. Dave DeGrow’s lighting invokes the bronzes of faded blood. This production is truly a collection of subtleties.

The night I saw the performance, the theatre space was oppressively hot. Sad, because such care was put into the creation of the piece.

 

 

 

Oh My Irma

Spark Festival

Wed. to Sat at 8pm

Sat. at 4pm, Sun. at 2pm in the studio

$20 at belfry.bc.ca or 250-385-6815

No late admission

 

Review by Brent Schaus

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