Kitt and Jane, Alumni Spotlight at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre – a review

It’s the First International Wildlife Diversity Appreciation Day, and Kitt Pederson (Ingrid Hansen) and Lucas “Jane” Jameson (Rod Peter Jr) have been chosen out of all the Grade 9 students to make a brief presentation.

What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out – plenty!

Kitt and Jane, the current Alumni Spotlight at the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre (October 17 – 26th) is the sequel to a previous Snafu Dance Theatre production, the wildly-popular and critically-acclaimed Little Orange Man, which chronicled the adventures of a lovable 10 year old goofball.

Kitt and Jane Phoenix Theatre Oct 2013

We rejoin Kitt (now 14) and finally meet her best friend Jane (actually Lucas).

Co-creators Hansen, Peter, and Snafu co-artistic director Kathleen Greenfield draw from extensive backgrounds in theatre, choreography, story-telling and puppets to craft a “living show”.  Kitt and Jane was work shopped at the Belfy Theatre’s Incubator and premiered at the SPARK Festival in 2012.  Awards soon followed – (Victoria) Critic’s Choice Spotlight Award 2012 for Best New Play, Vancouver Fringe New Play Prize (and a mentorship with the Playwright’s Centre where Kathleen Flaherty provided dramaturgy).

The play’s popularity stems from the fact that, at the heart of it all, no one wants to feel left out or be the socially awkward one. We’ve all been 14, struggling with what adolescences throws at us, shucking off our childlike innocence and learning to function in an adult world that wants us to grow up – right now – while increasingly frustrated at our apparent powerlessness.

It’s the angst-fuelled existential transition common to humanity since time immemorial – Kitt and Jane has found a way to voice it for a new generation.

Audience members more familiar with a younger Kitt, from the critically acclaimed Little Orange Man  will find, underneath these gawky now-teenage misfits, the same spirit of wonder, curiosity, inquisitiveness and adventure.

Kitt and Jane retains much of the indy or alternative aesthetic that appeals to a younger crowd, while overarching themes call to the adolescent in each of us.  This was amply evident on opening night when Hansen and Peter were recruiting people for their survival posse. Asking theatre-goers to participate can be a very tricky situation, fraught with the possibility of obstinate non-compliance, but everyone who was asked, regardless of age, was more than willing to play along.

Kitt and Jane’s genius lies in the ability of the creators to craft a story that has simultaneously tapped into young people’s concern and anxiety about the state of the world while reminding their elders of a simpler more playful time.

Kitt and Jane is a wild, zany, mad-cap, adrenaline-fuelled, non-stop 75 minutes packed with randomness and best enjoyed by completely suspending judgement.  Hansen and Peter are gifted physical performers – the great grandchildren of a superb lineage of physical and slapstick comedy that includes Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis and the estimable French comedian Pierre Richard – who will have you laughing out loud at their antics.

Drawing inspiration from Guignol, and Punch and Judy, large scale shadow puppetry plays an important role in creating the feel of the show, as does lighting by Michael Franzmann.

Featuring original songs on ukulele and glockenspiel, and packed with inventive low-tech special effects, Kitt and Jane reminds us all that we can “be the change”.

The day after Kitt and Jane opened at the Phoenix Theatre, 18,000 young people were present in Vancouver for WE Day (founded by Craig and Mark Keilburger of Free the Children – mentioned as “children of the revolution” in Kitt and Jane).

They listened to the words of Kofi Anna, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former secretary-general of the United Nations.

“You can make a difference, go out and do it. Individuals have power and they should use it.”

“You don’t have to be old to lead,” Annan said. “And you don’t have to take on the biggest issues. You can do something in your own community to correct something you believe is wrong. That’s how you begin to lead.” (Vancouver Sun)

Kitt and Jane may not have started the fire, but they are determined to teach others how to survive and thrive, no matter what the future holds.

Kitt and Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future
Alumni Spotlight, UVic’s Phoenix Theatre
October 15 – 26th
Tickets $14 – $24
Phoenix Box Office in person, or by calling 250 721-8000

Look for, “A Teenagers Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse”, a podcast series, to be released this fall.

Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary tickets to attend the opening of Kitt and Jane.  As always, I retain editorial control over all content on my blog. 

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. Dear Janis, I have been trying to find some Victoria musical theatre trivia and I have found your blog. You write about some very interesting arts related things and perhaps you can put me onto the right track. When I lived in Victoria from about 1969 to 1973- there was a summer musical review that appealed to tourists and residents alike. We all took our visitors down to the McPherson to see this musical review. It would be best be described as English music hall, vaudeville and variety show all in one. The show was a classic and had been running every summer for 20 plus years. Would you have someone who could lead me to some history? I’m doing a trivia posting for our local theatre’s 100th birthday next week. It has been a movie theatre and a vaudeville stage . Nina Mussellam Powell River BC


  1. […] the state of the world while reminding their elders of a simpler more playful time,” wrote local arts blogger Janis La […]

  2. […] number of times I’m seen the show since early development days. You can read my reviews here and here. This show is suitable for children and will particularly resonate with tweens and […]

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