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Theatre review: Through the Gaze of a Navel may very well be the quintessential Vancouver theatre experience

Emelia Symington Fedy leads a class in The Chop Theatre / Boca del Lupo production of Through the Gaze of a Navel.
Emelia Symington Fedy leads a yoga class in Through the Gaze of a Navel.

There are a few things that are quintessentially Vancouver: the mountains, the seawall, our constant chatter about the weather, our addiction to coffee and, of course, yoga.

Seems Vancouverites can’t get enough of Bikram, Hatha, Ashtanga, hot, prenatal … the list seems almost as endless as the studios that continue to pop on every street next to a Starbucks.  For many of yoga’s aficionados, it is all about fitness, but for many more, it comes with a side of spirituality.

Given our city’s fascination with this ancient art, it was inevitable that yoga would one day become the subject for a theatrical production.  And what better company to undertake Through the Gaze of a Navel than Boca del Lupo as part of its ongoing Micro Performance Series (MPS).

In this latest MPS show, Boca del Lupo has joined forces with The Chop Theatre in a yoga class that cleverly straddles genuine respect for the practice while acknowledging that sometimes, like many of our other obsessive quests for enlightenment, it can go one step too far.

Designed as an actual yoga class held in the tiny Anderson Street Space on Granville Island, Emelia Symington Fedy leads a small group of students of what at first glance is a pretty typical combination of downward dogs and warrior poses.  Mixed in though with the gentle yoga workout is a sly wit as Fedy pokes at the artifice that can also surround yoga and the dozens of other new-age healing therapies that exist.

As Fedy reveals the dozens of therapies that she has tried over the years, we are given tiny glimpses into their efficacy.  Included in the quick 45-minute class is a demonstration of the Jade Egg that was funny enough but made more so by revealing its true purpose just as it was being examined by two of the men in the class.

Ultimately Through the Gaze of a Navel works for both the non-yoga enthusiast and its fans by creating a near-perfect satirical balance, a comedic yin-yang as it were, of genuine respect and gentle derision.

And I dare you to hold your Utthita Parsvakonasana while laughing. Namaste!

Through the Gaze of a Navel by Emelia Symington Fedy and Anita Rochon.  A The Chop Theatre production as part of the Boca del Lupo Micro Performance Series.  On stage at the Anderson Street Space on Granville Island through Sunday, April 27.  Visit https://bocadellupo.com for tickets and information.

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