Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe 2015. Day Nine.

Dispatches from the Victoria Fringe2015.  Day Nine. Victoria Fringe Festival  August 26-September 6, 2015.

Reviews of Lieutenant Nun and Two Ruby Knockers, One Jaded Dick.

Read all of my Victoria Fringe Festival 2015 coverage HERE.

Please remember on this final weekend of the 29th Victoria Fringe Festival–advance tickets (or lining up well in advance) are advised. If a show is sold-out, take a risk on another. That’s what the Fringe is all about. 

Lieutenant Nun

Lieutenant Nun is simply outstanding—in quality, size, scope and execution this co-production between Theatre SKAM, Puente Theatre and Snafu Dance Theatre is a personal highlight of the 2015 Victoria Fringe Festival.

As a bring your own venue (BYOV) the creators were able to stretch the 90 minute upper limit of the usual Fringe show to 105 minutes—more than ample to capture the life and times of a most extraordinary person—Catalina de Erauso (played with verve and gusto by Christina Patterson), a 17th Spanish conquistador, who was, in fact, a woman and a nun.

For their 20th anniversary Theatre SKAM decided to re-visit and re-mix works from their repertoire. I still remember the original production in 2004, standing and marvelling on the sand at Fleming Beach as Catalina was rowed ashore.

For this iteration, the companies are once again utilizing the glorious spaces of Macaulay Point Park, itself the site of an 1895 coastal defence fort with battlements, tunnels, storehouses and a high tower, perfectly suited to the site-specific nature of the play.

Co-directors Mercedes Bátiz-Benét from Puente and Kathleen Greenfield of Snafu worked closely with the playwright to revisit the work, particularly in light of current discussions on gender. What emerges is the picture of a woman driven to succeed in a man’s world, while at the same time tormented by her desire and the necessity to keep secrets.

Originally sentenced to death for insubordination, Catalina is saved when she avows she is a woman. Confined once again to a convent, she reveals her story to the Mother Superior.

The retelling involves Incan priests, Spanish nobles and ladies, whores, soldiers, the clergy—and a wide variety of giant puppets, masks, metal head-cages. Music pervades every scene as the audience strolls from location to location. There are gruesome and extremely realistic sword fights, treachery and midnight trysts, rituals and incantations.

At times the acting style borrows from commedia dell’arte, at others it is gripping in its realism—particularly when Catalina exorcises her ghosts.

Lieutenant Nun takes us back to a time when stepping outside rigidly defined and enforced gender norms meant certain death—what an astonishing person Catalina must have been, and how incredible this story of life, death and survival against all odds.

Superior storytelling from an accomplished band of thespians, Lieutenant Nun is another one for the history books of local theatre.

Please note:  This is an outdoor production. Dress warmly and expect to walk and stand for the duration of the show.

Further reading:

Lieutenant Nun by Elaine Avila
Theatre SKAM; co-produced by Snafu Dance Theatre and Puente Theatre
Site A: Macaulay Point Park in Esquimalt (directions below).
105 minutes • All Ages • Outdoor Roaming Musical All Seats $11

Remaining shows:
Saturday September 5, 2015 – 6:00 PM
Sunday September 6, 2015 – 6:00 PM

WHERE: SITE A – Macaulay Point Park

Macaulay Point Park: Corner of Lampson & Munro
6 minute drive from Fringe HQ.
Free Parking.
Public Transit from downtown: Take #15X Esquimalt bus
NB: Site is not wheelchair accesible.

Written by Elaine Avila
Directed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét & Kathleen Greenfield
Musical Coaching by Sarah Jane Pelzer
Costume Design by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét
Mask Design by Ingrid Hansen, Mercedes Bátiz-Benét & Kathleen Greenfield
Puppet Design by Ingrid Hansen
Mask & Puppet construction by Ingrid Hansen & Andrew Barrett
Assistant Stage Management by Delaney Tesch


Catalina/Antonio de Erauso………..Christina Patterson
Mother Isabel……………………………Naomi Simpson
Friar Carvajal/Chorus………………..Julian Popham Cervello
Captain Guerrero/Chorus…………..Judd Palmer
María/Chorus……………………………Alexandra Wever
Miguel/Chorus………………………….John Han
Inca/Chorus……………………………..Keshia Palm
Madre/Chorus…………………………..Kelly Hudson
Chorus…………………………………….Jesse Deutscher

Two Ruby Knockers, One Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation

With rapid patter and jokes so cheesy you could cut them with a knife, the master of manipulation, the prince of prestidigitation, the one and only noir detective/magician Dirk Darrow (Tim Motley) returns for a third time to the Victoria Fringe stage.

The Victoria Event Centre is aptly suited for a show of this nature, full of audience feedback and participation (which begins while in line with a “background check”). Darrow is up to the task of keeping patrons firmly in their place, his sarcastic put-downs toeing a careful line.

Jokes and clues fly in a verbal torrent; it’s perfect for flummoxing a room-full of willingly gullible “rubes”.

The tone is light, the magic an integral part of the show—card tricks, mentalism, and a final reveal that will astound you are interspersed as Darrow bumbles and fumbles around in the dark, seamy corners of a city that never sleeps, hot on the trail of the bank heist mastermind.

Tim Motley is a pro and Dirk Darrow a character I come back to happily every chance I get—it’s the beauty of the Fringe where favourite performers become part of an annual experience.

Fans of comedy, magic and film noir can’t go wrong in choosing Darrow for a date with the Fringe.

Two Ruby Knockers, One Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
written/created by Tim Motley
Venue 1, Victoria Event Centre
All seats $11
60 minutes • PG 14+: Coarse Language, Adult Themes • Comedy Magic Noir

Remaining shows:
Saturday September 5, 2015 – 4:45 PM
Sunday September 6, 2015 – 6:30 PM

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.


  1. […] With rapid patter and jokes so cheesy you could cut them with a knife, the master of manipulation, the prince of prestidigitation, the one and only noir detective/magician Dirk Darrow (Tim Motley) returns—world weary and spouting classic one-liners at an incredible rate, this fim-noir magic show astonishes.  Review link: http://janislacouvee.com/dispatches-from-the-victoria-fringe-2015-day-nine/ […]

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