Benjamin Elliott as Daryl in Broken Sex Doll. Photo by Bettina Strauss.
Benjamin Elliott as Daryl in Broken Sex Doll. Photo by Bettina Strauss.

Broken Sex Doll is impossible to categorize and difficult to describe. It’s a smutty sex romp, but also an endearing love story. It’s a sci-fi adventure complete with robots and lasers, but it’s also a farcical comedy with a dude in drag and lady bits with crackly fireworks. It draws on eighties rock operas mixed with circus and a dash of interpretive dance. Whatever it is, your abs will ache from the fun of it.

[pullquote]It’s silly, slapstick, and boundary-pushing all rolled up into one tight little package. From a technical standpoint, the mix of dance, technology, music, and circus tricks is thrilling, creating a show that redefines what theatre can do. It is a show that you won’t soon forget.[/pullquote]Set in 2136, Broken Sex Doll exists in a world where traditional morality has been thrown aside in favour of the “feelies”, a Huxley-esque technology that allows a person to record their experiences and upload it for use by anyone. Far from creating a utopia of universal understanding, this technology has created a world where a hyper-energetic host (a hilarious Ian Rozylo) counts down the top amateur porn “feelies” of the week. The musical follows the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl make a sex tape, boy and girl become famous overnight.

While the context may sound ridiculous, it feeds the audience the requisite amount of absurdity that allows them to let go and enjoy the hilarity embedded in the situation. It’s like an episode of Family Guy. If a man gets hit in the face in real life it’s a little funny, but mostly concerning. When a genius baby does it on television, it’s comical and not concerning at all. The same principle applies here.  Andy Thompson and the team behind Broken Sex Doll have done an incredible job of taking the audience out of reality just enough that they forget about the rational consequences of the action on stage. They have managed to do this in spite of the fact that you are looking at real people. Instead, the audience only sees the fun and over-the-top hilarity of a cartoon with the emotional resonance of reality.

The success of the show relies on its multi-talented cast. Leading man Benjamin Elliott (Darryl) steals every scene with powerful vocals and enviable comedic timing. He is a man who can make lone syllables funny. His love interest, Chelsea Rose Tucker (Ginger), is a trifecta of physicality, facial control, and pipes that just won’t quit. Villain Neezar (the King) struts around the stage in tights and a codpiece which could be uncomfortable in any other world, but in this one is priceless. Finally the supporting cast flesh out this world of absurdities in a way that makes it work. Scenes of robot sisterhood and marital infighting are absurdly entertaining, cartoonish, yet relatable in a way that seems impossible if you hadn’t just seen it.

While the romantic resolution feels rushed, the sound has a curious hollowness, and a few songs went on a little long, the show’s merits make it far too funny to miss. It’s silly, slapstick, and boundary-pushing all rolled up into one tight little package. From a technical standpoint, the mix of dance, technology, music, and circus tricks is thrilling, creating a show that redefines what theatre can do. It is a show that you won’t soon forget.

Broken Sex Doll. Written and directed by Andy Thompson. Original music by Anton Lipovetsky. A Virtual Stage production. On stage at the York Theatre (639 Commercial Dr) until November 22. Visit http://thecultch.com for tickets and information.

Vancouver Presents

Comments