Affair of Honor, Studio 1398, until Dec 2
My Two Pence
Affair of Honor’s production of Soul Samurai has to be seen to be understood. Truly. But I will try to write a few words about my experience of it, because, that’s what I’m here for. Soul Samurai is a revenge story likened to Kill Bill, a deep loss by our heroine, Dewdrop, leads her on a quest for resolution. Spoiler’s ahead.
Firstly, a disclosure that I’m really not a vampire person, the genre - which seems to have exploded over the last ten years – is just not something that excites me, at all. The vampires we encounter seem to be, well, decently vampire-y, although I’m not an expert by any means. The other characters portrayed by this fight-expert cast are a bit of a hit-and-miss in terms of their realization on stage. The absolute stand out – both in the way he is written and the way he is played is Cert, the sidekick of our hero. Lou Ticzon has a comical ease about him on stage which is such a breath of fresh air amidst an awful lot of horror and violence.
Fight choreo is hard, and there is a lot here. Most of which carried off with great aplomb. However, Studio 1398 is tricky for sightlines, unfortunately for me, being sat at the end of the front row, I missed a lot of the illusion and saw (literally) behind the curtain on most occasions – which was a shame because some of those hits and kills when face on directly would (I’m sure) have been utterly convincing. The most impressive sequences here are the mesmerizing fan fight with every member of the ensemble holding two snap fans – I would say the show is worth checking out just for that one scene to be fair. The final “Boss” fight in this Kill Bill escapade is spectacular. Throughout the show we see the use of filmed media to enhance the story or to add more depth to characters, and although the use of an understated acapella song overlayed with bloody violence is truly done to death these days (pun not necessarily intended), the reason it is so overused is because it works, and it works here.
When I said there is a lot of fight choreo that might be the understatement of the century, there is indeed so much fight choreo here that I am struggling to even really consider it a theatre “show” in the traditional context. Dialogue is brief and used only to initiate or bridge the fight scenes. There is no denying the expertise of these artists, and the blood*, sweat and tears we see on stage is a feat to behold. However, underneath the incredible tenacity and energy of the cast, I found the story shallow and fake. I didn’t believe the love story – around which the whole story revolves. I didn’t enjoy the boldly shallow characters we were introduced to throughout, although were some characters we did get to know better, in no case more so than Marcus Moon/Boss2K (a no holds barred performance by Romuald Hivert) but there was nothing real in this performance. In the two hours of Soul Samurai, there were no real people, just wild exaggerations of people, and that bled over into the emotionality – which, as I said, I found lacking.
And, I have to say, why the why why did there have to be a forced kiss between the two heroes. Why? It was such a shame to belittle Cert’s character and all of his actions, in his dying moments no less, back to a shallow ‘friendzoned’ guy who just wants sex from Dewdrop. Really? Urgh… it was, irritating. Such an annoying unnecessary let down in a show which seemingly proclaims female-empowerment at all levels.
Also, why was there a sex dungeon scene? What did that add? Just for the sake of having some pseudo-S&M to throw in among the violence. Unfortunately, whatever it’s intent it was awkward at best, cringe-worthy at worst… there's nothing less sexy than people trying that hard to be sexy.
I don’t want to end this on a downer. As I said early on there is undoubtedly substance and a hellova lot of skill in this two-hour production. There will be some people that think this show is the BEST THING EVER (all caps intended), and I can absolutely see why. You very well might be one of those people, so you should go and make up your own mind. This is a big, brash, bloody spectacular unlike anything I have ever seen, in Vancouver or anywhere else in the world.
*only some fake.
- Charlie Upton