I mean, with only five years left on the planet before it succumbs to climate change, what else should humanity do to save itself than send a hippo into space? Yup, that’s the incredible premise for this mostly shadow puppetry presentation.
Seri Yanai and Daniel Wishes are the performers and masterminds behind the action of the show, with music by Elliott Loran. Projected using plastic panes in front of flashlights, they create a world where a hippopotamus can become confused with an alien goddess.
Generally the soundtrack is pre-recorded with three songs performed live by Loran – although he composed them all. Yanai and Wishes cover the voices of the various creatures we encounter as they manipulate the images.
I loved the ease with which they slid into a variety of styles. One of the earliest sequences is treated like a silent film with rollicking music and title cards, introducing us to Miss Hippo as she is prepared for her journey.
Interspersed with that are comic and comical sequences featuring LizardMan – who always gets a laugh for just saying his own name – and FoodRobot, who only speaks Japanese. The joke of how FoodRobot came to be is one of my favourites in a show that doesn’t mind skewering politics or religion.
The second song in the show involves a thoughtful meander amidst glorious glowing backgrounds. The use of colour – a purple hippo! – is strategic and beautiful. It becomes easy to get lost in the world of the show; somehow even the green glowing galaxy becomes believable.
Loran’s vocal chops are fully on display during the other two songs as the story slips into prologue/epilogue montages.
The few times that a speech bubble appeared in the show felt unnecessary, merely underlining the spoken dialogue – but that’s obviously a minor quibble with a show whose humour is so riotious.
Definitely worth the intergalactic trip to a land of large mammals, luminous imagery and lots and lots of laughter.
- Space Hippo plays at the Randolph Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warning: Realistic violence or gore.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. We recommend checking in with the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 8:45 pm
- Friday July 6th, 8:45 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 10:30 pm
- Monday July 9th, 8:15 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 12:00 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 5:15 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Space Hippo in the Cave of Wonders by D. Wishes.