Awkward Stage Productions,’ Canadian Premiere took a lot of risks, from condensing the show to a one-act 90-minute production to further scaling down the already minimal set, and more important, gender reversing both pro and antagonists, Jasper and Mrs. Lethe, and the risk certainly paid off as it gave the work a fresh approach without changing show’s core concept.
As a female Jasper, Merewyn Comeau did not have to oversell, nor did Natalie Backerman as Mrs. Lethe. The rest of the cast successfully took us through the story without having to resort to overplay, effortlessly flowing through the scenes and gifting the audience beautiful musical numbers with their very powerful voices. In fact, I appreciated and actually followed the story better this time around. I can’t say the same for the technical side though, as we were presented with a lot of static and drowned out voices, even though I think it was a very good idea to use microphones in the intimate venue.
Glitches aside, Jasper In Deadland is a good addition to the festival and it does have the potential to gain its own Canadian following until a full scale production comes into fruition, that is, if there are plans at all.
Directed and choreographed by Erika Babins featuring a diverse cast of 9 emerging artists, Natalie Backerman, Merewyn Comeau, Nathan Cottell, Lucia Forward, Max Fritz-Borowski, Julia Maclean, Rose McNiel, Ryan Nunez, and Courtney Shields, Jasper In Deadland continues to play at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova Street, as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival until September16.