Oh My Irma – Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival 2013

From the opening freeze-frames, Oh My Irma (Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival) captures our attention, and invites us to become complicit witnesses in this crazy, quirky, dark and disturbed adventure that is the life of Mission Bird (Haley McGee).

It’s a bit of a shock after the rather soothing tones of faintly Hawaiian slack guitar in the intro.

Oh My Irma 17Haley McGee. Photo: Jesse Griffiths

Mission Bird, in the best tradition of plucky, courageous fore-runners like Calvin, Tom Sawyer, Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables, stands before us, ready to defend and explain her actions.  Really – there is a reason for this crime.

Her dishevelled, unkempt and rather dirty appearance hints at deeper truths. What exactly went on here?

Armed with only a suitcase, her wits and prodigious dramatic abilities, McGee takes us on a back and forth journey between the here-and-now, and the past; the young woman before us and her slam poetry spouting alter-ego; reality and fantasy. It’s all terribly damaged and very compelling.  There are hints of Tarantino and McDonagh in the telling of this tale.

Lighting design in stark white with minimal variations is integral to focusing audience attention at key moments. On, off, or a bare sliver – there is no mistaking the intent of these highlights as they relate to the story line.

The poetic and lyrical images of laundry and washing fill the text, leading to many possible interpretations.  Is Mission Bird “airing her dirty laundry”?

Attracted rather than repulsed, we stay with Mission Bird to the very end, wanting only to cradle her and make it better.  What does life have in store for her? Will there be further adventures?

McGee conceived the character during an emerging artist cabaret (CRAPSHOOT) at Theatre Passe Muraille.  She continued developing the work through the theatre’s BUZZ Festival, and at the Banff Playwrights Colony.

Oh My Irma went on to garner awards at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in 2010, and made its professional debut at Theatre Passe Muraille in early 2011.

McGee has taken the show twice to the New York – based United Solo Theatre Festival, the world’s largest international solo show festival, where it was awarded Best Production in 2011 and Best Encore in 2012.

Now touring internationally, it’s a pleasure to have it land for a brief time on our shores.  Find out what all the buzz is about.  Oh My Irma plays March 12 – 17th in the smaller Studio A space at the Belfry Theatre.  Tickets will sell out.

Oh My Irma, Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival
March 12 – 17th at 8pm with matinees Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 2 pm.
Ticket: $20. Discounts for: seniors (10%), post secondary students (25%) and high school students (50%)
Online or by phone 250 385 6815

Audience Advisories: This show will be performed in Studio A, which is open seating, and due to the intimate nature of the space, cannot accommodate latecomers. Any patron who arrives late will be offered admission to “A Brimful of Asha”, playing at the same time in the Main theatre (subject to availability); we cannot offer refunds or exchanges to another performance of “Oh My Irma”. The play contains dark and disturbing subject matter, and is not suitable for younger audiences.

Disclaimer:  I was offered complimentary tickets to attend Oh My Irma. I was not paid to write a review nor was I required to do so. As always, I retain editorial control over all the content published on this blog.

About @lacouvee

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  1. […] Oh My Irma – She’s been called “…the next darling of Canadian theatre” and now Haley McGee brings her “adorable oddball anti-hero, Mission Bird” to SPARK. (my review here) […]

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