Aaron Malkin was four years old when his mother disappeared. The adults in his life told him all sorts of stories to explain what happened, but those stories never added up.
“It took me until my twenties to piece together that I had been told lies,” he says.
Malkin would eventually find out the truth as an adult: his mother died from a drug overdose. Whether intentional or not though remains a mystery.
In Thunderfoot, Malkin uses this childhood memory to tell the story of a young boy who runs away on an enchanted quest to find his mother, who has mysteriously disappeared.
“Thunderfoot is a fantastical story weaving together the imagination of that confused four-year-old, and the events that led me to finding the truth,” he says.
Best known for his role as one-half of the comedy duo James & Jamesy, Malkin branches out on his own for this solo show. A self-described perfectionist, he admits the process was not easy.
“Working alone is tough because I don’t have anyone telling me ‘good enough’,” he says. “On stage, however, it’s thrilling. There’s no one for me to fall back on, and I know where the audience focus is at every moment. Having that attention on each movement, syllable, and breath really raises my awareness of all that I’m doing.”
It is his perfectionism that also keeps him up at night.
“I fear that I haven’t done everything I possibly can to make the show amazing,” he says. “This fear nips at me in all of my pursuits. It takes away sleep, but keeps life riveting.”
With the doubt, also comes satisfaction, as Malkin can put aside some of the difficulties in working as part of James & Jamesy.
“I’m a drummer and can keep a metronome going in my head while delivering lines,” he says. “Jamesy’s timing coincides more with how he feels in the moment. This makes it difficult for us to choreograph movement with tight timings.”
In Thunderfoot, Malkin is able to sync his movement with music and sound effects without this added complication, a process he calls satisfying.
“To bring a giant to life with sound effects, punctuating every single movement is one of the most scrumptious sequences I’ve created on stage.”
Through Thunderfoot, it is Malkin’s hope the audience will “experience a stretching of their heart”.
“They will simultaneously want to laugh and cry,” he says. “They will leave with a deeper appreciation of their mothers and friends, and with an elation that comes from a good long hearty laugh.”
Thunderfoot plays the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island April 26-28. Visit jamesandJamesy.com for tickets and information.