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Vancouver Fringe Festival 2012: Part II

 Fringe Festival Part II.   Guest Reviewer: Jo Ledingham.

4) Underbelly by Jayson McDonald

Underbelly (running time 60 minutes)

Written and performed by Jayson McDonald
Venue: Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
Still to come:
Sun, Sep 9, 3:35pm
Mon, Sep 10, 9:40pm
Fri, Sep 14, 10:40pm
Sun, Sep 16, 6:45pm
 
What turns out to be a full-blown, brain-assaulting rant against everything from democracy (“offering the illusion of participation”) to just about everything, begins innocently enough. Inspired by the life and writing of Williams S. Burroughs, a lean man (Jayson McDonald) in a light brown, three-piece suit, tie and fedora – presumably Burroughs himself – stands in a pool of light. He takes a couple of pills. A few more. A handful. “While I wait for the medication to surprise me”, he says calmly, he chats briefly.
 
And then, wow, we’re on a roller coaster with this guy. It’s not rap or slam poetry but the effect is the same: images smashing into each other, tangents pursued into hitherto unexplored places, non-stop words hurtling crazily into the theatre faster than they can be processed. But McDonald isn’t breaking a sweat. He’s preternaturally cool as he describes what feels like the end of the world. And we’re in it. So pissed off with the way mankind is screwing up, “I refuse to remember my species name”, he says. From “tourists kicking the residents out” (the way he sees the colonization of America) to the proliferation of guns and “chemical castration”, Willie (his Burroughs persona, a writer or maybe, he concedes, “a write-off”) is seriously disillusioned.
 
Darkly funny, Underbelly nevertheless ends on an upbeat:
“What is love?” For the best answer I’ve ever heard and an exhilarating freefall into language and image, see Underbelly. Once is barely enough.
 
Jo Ledingham reviews Wednesdays for The Courier (vancourier.com)