Monday, June 09, 2014

Must See Theatre: Roller Derby Saved My Soul

Three years ago, Vicki and I took in Hamilton Fringe and one of our favourite of its shows was called Roller Derby Saved My Soul.  Its creator and star, Nancy Kenny, was a delight to watch as she brought the two female leads to life in the form of a pair of very different sisters.  Her script was full of pop culture references to Buffy, Xena, Wonder Woman and other iconic figures, and the physicality of Ms Kenny's performance was amazing... she actually does a good portion of the play on roller skates, motoring around the stage at a good clip as the story, and her derby skills, develop before our eyes.

This summer, Nancy has brought Roller Derby Saved My Soul to London, as well as several upcoming Fringe Festivals, including Toronto and Montreal.  I was fortunate enough to get a lunch date with her today so I could ask her a few questions about how the play came to be and what it's like to do a one-woman show on roller skates.  She told me she'd been inspired by seeing a one-man show back in 2009 and had decided, more or less on the spot, to write something of that sort for herself.  Not too long after that resolution she happened to see a newspaper article about a local roller derby league and was intrigued by what she read.  Several months of in-arena research and rough draft-writing later, Roller Derby Saved My Soul was born.

The play has been tweaked in some interesting ways since we saw it in 2011, but it's still the tale of Amy and June, two sisters with almost nothing in common.  And it continues to overflow with laugh-out-loud moments, powerful stunts and a terrific all-round performance by Ms. Kenny.  I was able to get out to see the new and updated version last week while Vicki was busy doing some volunteer work, and we're going to see it together later this week.  It's just that good!

And don't let the title fool you: while RDSMS celebrates the world of roller derby in its own funny way, you definitely don't have to be a fan of that sport to thoroughly enjoy Nancy Kenny's creation.  Everything you need to know about it comes out over the course of the hour, and (as Bill Cosby used to say), if you're not careful, you might just learn something while you're at it!

There are three performances of the show still to come this week before the tour moves on:

Tonight @ 8:30
Thu night @ 10:00
Fri night @  7:00

All of them are at the McManus Studio (downstairs at the Grand Theatre on Richmond) and tickets are $10 at the door, although you'll also need to spend $6 on a Fringe Button (also at the door) if it's your first Fringe show of the year (all the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the performers, so the button money pays for the venues and other expenses).  Even at $16 per person, this show will over-deliver, big-time, on the laughs and thrills, trust me.

Don't miss this opportunity to see a truly wonderful one-hour show!

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