Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Theatre review: Vampires in Barcelona is a travelogue with bite

In his one-person show Vampires in Barcelona, Brian Cochrane recounts part of his true-life backpacking trip through Europe. And while his story does indeed include vampires, it is as much a story of love, phobias and other adventures.

Following a romantic stop in Paris with his girlfriend in 2006, a then 22-year old Cochrane eventually found himself going solo in the Spanish city. A chance meeting with a Hungarian magician at his Barcelona hostel led him to what his newfound friend told him was a real-life vampire bar.

With a few photographs and a travel tale, Cochrane paints vivid pictures of his travels. At times laugh-out-loud funny, this wild tale of vampires is softened with stories any traveler can relate.

Cochrane uses some interesting devices to help tell his story. While the photographs are sparse (there is a reason we find out), as Cochrane steps behind his microphone, he relates his story in the third person. Every so often though, he breaks away from the microphone to add some additional colour to the story whether with a fact or personal observation.

A running gag about language helps keep the audience onside, and while perhaps a bit long, the inevitable (and totally relatable) story of needing a toilet in a foreign land is still very funny.

While the story of vampires may be a draw, Cochrane also uses the opportunity to talk of childhood fears. The connection he makes from his opening story of being afraid of the dark as a child to his final adventure in the vampire bar is nicely done.

Along the way he also reveals his fear of sharks during a visit to L’Aquarium Barcelona; a phobia he acknowledges as being a bit irrational “for someone who grew up in Saskatchewan”.

Cochrane also talks of love. Whether it is the reason he is in Europe in the first place, or from the unsettling story from his Hungarian friend, it is not difficult to relate to a youthful quest for love.

On opening night Cochrane found himself at a loss for words on a couple of occasions, but recovered quickly. As he mentioned at one point as he turned to director Jamie King for help, “there were no previews”.

There is a fringe festival feel to Vampires in Barcelona, but it comes as no surprise as Cochrane acknowledged two fringe veterans as inspiration during our recent interview.

Often laugh-out-loud funny, Vampires in Barcelona is cleverly constructed and a winning bit of theatrical storytelling. If only our parent’s slide shows in the rec rooms of our youth had been this engaging.

Vampires in Barcelona written and performed by Brian Cochrane. Directed by Jamie King. A Skinny Walrus Projects production in partnership with Rumble Theatre. Presented as part of the 2017 rEvolver Theatre Festival on stage at The Cultch in the Jim Green House Studio (1398 Venables St, Vancouver) until June 3. Visit for tickets and information.

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