Kylie Vincent performs her play Bird until April 22 as part of The Cultch’s Femme Festival, comprised of shows highlighting the strength and power of female-identifying voices.
Vincent’s performance is part stand-up, memoir, and fever dream. Her set is a nightclub, where pre-chosen guests are ushered to their tables in front of the conventional seating just before her one-hour performance begins. A rug, a microphone on a stand and a bar stool complete the picture.
Casually dressed in a top, long pants and shiny Doc Martins, she saunters to the mic. She abandons it a few minutes later to wind herself around the bar stool. Her technique of switching between the mic and her natural voice is effective, and we hear every word, apart from the odd throwaway line that she delivers teenage style.
In fact, she’s no teen. She tells us she’s 23 and a Jew of promiscuous sexual disorientation who comes from Californian white trash. Her jokes reflect that. She’s no stranger to explicit language, and her audience, averaging an age that hovers around 30, seemed to enjoy it. Even a 70ish-year-old lady seated at one of the tables showed a great deal of enthusiasm for many of the off-colour jokes.
Kylie shrouds her disturbing story of sexual abuse by naming the protagonists as animals. Her abusive father is named Gorilla, her dysfunctional mother is Deer, and her spirited sister is Gazelle.
She calls herself Bird – a funny, long-legged, Jewish Bird. She doesn’t define the bird beyond that, but when she spreads her long arms and makes it as if to fly around the set, she looks like a seagull fleeing from an eagle, or in this case, a gorilla.
Her humour is dark, intended to shock, not unlike a teen sharing intimate stories in the lavatory at times. But her timing is good, her presence is strong, and her ad-libs are quick and amusing.
During her uncluttered performance, she rummages behind the back curtain and picks up one of three props. The first is a small box of oat milk to quench her thirst and perhaps maintain her high energy level. She says she has an auto-immune disease, that she’s never grown up and loves drinking from tiny boxes.
Next, she reads a letter she wrote to her future self, and lastly, Vincent takes a banana and, as she unzips it, says, “Telling this story makes me hungry.” She begins to eat. “This would be when the lights go out,” she calls backstage. And it’s over, apart from the sale of T-shirts depicting her and her disabled dog when they toured the show throughout the U.S. in a converted van.
Bird by Kylie Vincent continues at The Cultch’s VanCity Culture Lab (1895 Venables St. Vancouver) until April 22 as part of the 2023 Femme Festival. Visit thecultch.com for tickets and information.