Zoofest, an alternative arts festival meant to push the limits.
My Pregnant Brother by Johanna Nutter
Nutter tells the true story of her hapless hippie mother, her younger
sister, and their precarious lives growing up on the Main.
Our narrator is the strong one in the family and just when she
decides to abdicate her caretaking role, her sister declares that she is
a man and has her breasts removed. Nutter is forced not only to deal
with this dramatic change, fumbling and stumbling with pronouns
and introductions, but also must deal with her transgender brother’s
emotional issues and, finally, her mother and brother’s estrangement.
With simple chalk lines, Nutter creates the Plateau’s grid of
streets, complete with the mountain and cross on a chalkboard backdrop.
The actor adds details and streets to her map as the story of her brother’s
gender transition and pregnancy unfolds. Nutter weaves a touching tale
with evocative detail to help the audience visualize the street corners
In addition to shedding light on some of the emotional issues a
transgendered individual might face, the story also explores the
feelings of family members. Nutter delivers a humorous and poignant
performance, with the birth of her niece in an East Van hospital as
possibly the most beautiful moment. Yet, it is the final roadside tragedy that
is by far the most heartrending, reminding the family of just how
precious life is, whether in the body of a woman or man.
Johanna Nutter’s courageous
one-woman show explores subject-matter that is both original and risky,
putting a human face on what is usually relegated to the pages of
tabloids. For a unique and entertaining theatre performance, look no
further. This is storytelling at its best.
There are two more shows of My Pregnant Brother on Thursday and Friday.
Entrance with Charge – Two Girls Smoke a Cigarette in Only 30 Seconds
Labelled as “performance,” Entrance with Charge
puts the spotlight on les Filles Follen, a Spanish duo who “decided to
show what they really are: two pretty girls,” according to the Zoofest
program. The mission of this festival is to offer “wild adventure and
unique experiences,” but comedy is not a given in spite of being
affiliated with Just For Laughs.
A nod to cabaret and the cigarette girls of the 1950s, the
performance included plenty of cleavage, suggestive dancing, homo-erotic
displays and simulated fighting. Obviously trained dancers, les Filles
Follen were experimenting with what they could get away with based on
their attractiveness. And while it’s true that the audience may have
been less tolerant towards a pair of hairy middle-aged men doing the
same routine, it might have provided some much needed comic relief.
The Spanish duo’s performance fell short of anything entertaining and
instead served up little more than titillation. For a costume change,
they pulled in a male member of the audience to help them zip up and
recorded it on a web cam for the audience’s amusement. They walked
through the audience striking arabesques in short skirts and high heels
among the quiet, polite audience at the Café Cléopatra. I yawned a
little too audibly when the performers were parading through spectators
with cigarette boxes bearing the sign “We Are Pretty,” and then
unexpectedly had a member of the duo at our table, attempting to stare
The act was pure provocation, an experiment in which the audience
served as guinea pigs. Les Filles Follen performed strictly to pull our
strings, and although some people might enjoy paying to take part in their
little experiment, I found it empty and artless.
These reviews have been cross-posted at Rover Arts.
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