Ride the Cyclone
At the Revue Stage until Oct. 15
Careening out of tea sipping, go-to-bed-early Victoria comes Atomic Vaudevilles Ride The Cyclone, and its a ride you shouldnt miss. Written by Jacob Richmond (Legoland, The Qualities of Zero), with lyrics and music by Richmond and Brooke Maxwell, Ride The Cyclone is hilariously funny, hauntingly melancholic and, in a quirky way, it addresses our deepest existential angst: when we die does anyone remember who we were? Or what we might have become?
The Amazing Karnak, a mechanized fortune-teller, tells us at the top of the show that on Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 at 8:17 p.m., six teenagers boarded the roller coaster, the Cyclone. At 8:18 p.m. they were hurled into eternity when their car derailed at the apex of the loop-de-loop. Karnak had foretold the tragedy but, nevertheless, suggested they take the ride. Somewhat remorseful, he allows themmembers of the St. Cassian Chamber Choir in Uranium, Sask.one last concert from beyond the grave.
Ride The Cyclone proceeds with each teenager telling his/her story. It feels a bit Our Town-ish at this point, but the stories, ranging from Ocean Rosenbergs account of losing the National Debating Contest to a fake cripple all the way to Noel Grubers hoped-for life as a cross-dressing cabaret singer in Paris, are so breath-takingly creative, so fantastically well performed, youre prepared to forgive Atomic Vaudeville anything.
Ocean Rosenberg (played by Rielle Braid) is half Catholic, half Jewish and the self-appointed emcee of the concert. She is oh-so-perky in her school tunic, white blouse and tie but, in spite of Braids big bright smile, theres an undercurrent of nastiness. Noel Gruber (Kholby Wardell) is the only gay guy in Uranium: Its like having a laptop in the Stone Age; you have it but theres nowhere to plug it in. Wardell, in skimpy black lingerie, net stockings and shiny black stilettos, brings the house down with I Want To Be That F***ed Up Girl.
Ukrainian-Canadian Misha Bachinksky (Matthew Coulson) rages in rap about Chernobyl and rhapsodizes about his virtual girlfriend (whom we see in a black-and-white video dancing and smiling in a meadow of flowers). Thin and gawky Ricky Potts (Elliott Loran)looking as though hed break like kindlinglights a bonfire with his Space Age Bachelor Man and chubby Constance Blackwood (Kelly Hudson) twinkles her way through her confession: shed happily live forever in Uranium, a town in the middle of nowhere.
And then theres Jane Doe (Sarah Jane Pelzer), and heres where Ride The Cyclone hits its existential stride. Decapitated in the derailment, Jane Doe is a mystery. No one comes forward to claim her. No one knows her. Pelzer haunts the stage like every child that ever died. Shes a music box figure with yellow curls, white face and glassy eyes. Or shes a zombie, lurching robot-like across the stage. Soprano Pelzer sings a song so sad it makes you think of tiny coffins.
Richmond and Britt Small co-direct on a simple stage, but you can almost smell the cotton candy, fried onions and hotdogs. The constantly surprising music spans half-dozen styles from Brechtian cabaret to gospel to rap. The stories are achingly funny and sad; the voicesall of themare brilliant.
Ride The Cyclone is what live theatre is all about: risky, challenging, entertaining, inventive, provocative, funny and wise. After Whitehorse and Toronto, a deal is in the works for Ride The Cyclone to go off-Broadway. Get a ticket to ride this cyclone while its still in town. It will make you dizzy with delight.