LOCO+HERO+JOE never goes deep

It’s shaping up to be the year of the original musical at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival with Darcy McFadden’s LOCO+HERO+JOE, the story of Vancouver legend Joe Fortes, added to the mix.

Vancouver audiences will no doubt be familiar with Fortes as the man with a West End library and popular seafood restaurant named after him, but many may not realize his place in Vancouver history, or even of the fountain at English Bay’s Alexandra Park in which he is immortalized.

Best known as the larger-than-life English Bay lifeguard who, at the turn-of-the-century, taught many of Vancouver’s children to swim, tidbits of information on his life are revealed in McFadden’s story that includes his turn as a special constable and as the savior of lives during a Vancouver fire. But for all its colour, which includes thieves and prostitutes who also called English Bay home at the time, LOCO-HERO+JOE gets repetitive very quickly. In fact, the photographic introduction pretty much tells Joe’s story before the characters even take to the stage. The next sixty minutes repeats much of what we have already learned.

McFadden and his co-stars Sue Sparlin and Jina Anika do their best with the material, but are hampered by a story that never goes very deep. It may very well be that there is little about Fortes beyond what McFadden presents, but his attempt at creating an hour long musical is, while admirable, a big stretch.

LOCO+HERO+JOE created and staged by Darcy McFadden plays as part of the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival at Performance Works (1218 Cartwright St, Granville Island) until September 20. Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.