Review: Armed by Xua Xua Productions
What it is that makes a man feel like a man? And if lost, how far might your average Joe go to reclaim it?
These are the questions at the heart of Armed, a new work by Vancouver playwrights Andrea Loewen and Dani Bryant. While they may sound like serious queries, their treatment is anything but. The play begins on a relatively normal beat and almost immediately rockets to a bizarre realm of fanatic machismo and hilarious absurdity.
Our protagonist in the fast-paced, fringe-like adventure is Joe; a run of the mill fellow who is up for a big promotion. A rapid fire sequence of calamity sees our hero get undermined by an alpha male, rejected by his girlfriend, passed over for the promotion, and fired from his job. Painfully emasculated, Joe goes to his doctor and discovers, to his horror, that the worst has happened. He has lost his- *ahem* – cojones.
Driven mad by a desire to reclaim his manhood, a raving Joe heads off on an increasingly desperate path that begins with military recruitment, proceeds through facial tattoos, briefly pauses for a to-the-death battle with a wolf pack, and reaches its final destination when Joe replaces his right arm with a cannon. It’s silly, fun, and absolutely bursting with brilliant, offbeat one-liners (ie. You won’t call me inadequate when there’s a giant cannon on my arm).
Director Francine Dulong does an excellent job leading her willing and able cast through the manic romp. In the lead role of Joe is Darren Boquist, a member of the theatre scene better known from his work as a designer with companies such as Pi Theatre, Studio 58, and Carousel Theatre. His performance hits all the right notes, from earnest, understandable onset to raving madman conclusion.
His fellow performers are Ky Scott and Munish Sharma, each playing a mercurial assortment of characters who collide with Joe. Both demonstrate dynamite comedic timing and deliver stand-out performances in their quirky, bizarre roles. Scott’s turn as a cannon-arm-obsessed scientist was particularly memorable, and Sharma’s cheerfully unsympathetic doctor drew some of the biggest laughs of the evening.
Armed is a tight-paced, hilarious evening of theatre. The loving send-up of macho-mentalities will keep you laughing for its solid 60 minute run and asking ‘What on Earth did I just watch?’ the moment it is over.
Armed runs at Pacific Theatre until Saturday, July 21. Tickets are just $10 at Eventbrite.ca