Review: Airship (Femmes du Feu)

‘Proud’ spectacle of steampunk acrobatics at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

In celebration of Toronto Pride Week, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has once again put together a month’s worth of innovative and captivating Pride-themed productions to rev up audiences to embrace their own pride and prepare for the upcoming Parade. One of these productions is Airship produced by Femmes du Feu – a rollercoaster ride of steampunk themed acrobatics, stunts, music, dance and comedy.

The concept is the voyage of an all-girl powered flying machine using the human form to conceptualize gears, turbines, engines and the various working parts of such a contraption. The crew of this ship comprises of Sabrina Pringle as the First Mate, Natalie Fullerton as the Pilot, Lara Ebata as the Engineer, Holly Treddenick as the Head of Security, and James Zirco Fisher as the Navigator.

My boyfriend Bob once again accompanied me for the ride. Upon entering the theatre, our eyes feasted upon the beginnings of a spectacle – a gold and glittering curtain backdrop, seats surrounding a series of suspended apparatus including chain, rope, pole, horizontal ladder, hoops and net. These items are not only the basis for the gravity-defying stunts but represent the various sectors of the airship. More impressive than the stage equipment are the gorgeous ladies in steampunk attire draped, wound, lounged and coiled around them.

The show begins with James as Navigator doubling as DJ providing the soundtrack for the show. The music in question is a delightfully upbeat and quirky industrial soundscape produced by James’ Squid Lid project. The female quartet is the star of the show depicting an erratic, oddball crew set to steer this airship to destinations unknown. The “Captain” is a disembodied female voice heard throughout admonishing the team for their various antics.

In a word, the show is a delight – a wonderful spectacle of beautiful aerial stunt work, fluid, graceful, cohesive and awe-inspiring. Bob and I were instantly captivated and delighted by the whimsical pulley work using bungee cord looped over supports in the ceiling allowing for performers Holly and Natalie to free bounce on either sides of the stage. We were equally blown away from the spinning hoop work performed by all four ladies at the finale; the choreography of such was simply phenomenal.

I was also impressed by the musical work of James’ Squid Lid, being a fan of industrial music myself. Bob isn’t so much a fan but he did find the music amusing. We both found the use of live recording members of the audience calling out sounds like “Kapow!” and then looping them for the proceeding act comical and delightful.

Airship was only presented for one day but marks one of the various one-off productions Buddies in Bad Times will be presenting in celebration of Toronto Pride. Be sure to take a trip down to the theatre to witness one of these spectacular events!

Details

Airship has completed its one-night engagement, but there are plenty more Pride-themed to be seen at Buddies in Bad Times by checking out their website, www.buddiesinbadtimes.com.

Photos of James Zirco Fisher and Natalie Fullerton courtesy of the artists.