Roller Derby Saved My Soul

RDSMS Photo 4

nancy kenny
photo credit richard gilmore

The 23rd annual Atlantic Fringe Festival kicked off for me this evening at The Museum of Natural History at visiting artist Nancy Kenny’s one person play Roller Derby Saved My Soul. Kenny originally hails from Bathurst, New Brunswick, but now divides her time between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and this play comes to Halifax audiences direct from the Edmonton Fringe Festival. It is a joyful and poignant story of one thirty year old woman’s quest to empower herself and unleash a bit of her own inner superhero at the Roller Derby.

Amy Sawyer does not yet have the cool career of her dreams. She has not asked out the cute boy who wears a Green Lantern t-shirt with a vest. She does not have an exciting and glamorous life like her younger sister June. Instead, she is at home watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, eating popcorn and hiding away from her low self esteem and lack of assertive self confidence. Yet, Amy is given the opportunity to redefine and transform herself when she is adopted into the clan of the hard-ass, intense, sexy and strong roller derby girls.

Nancy Kenny brings Amy to beautiful life with all her, at times crippling, insecurities and nerdy exuberance for comic books. There was one particularly heartrending moment when Amy suddenly reacts to an unexpected kiss that was especially powerful and vulnerable. The audience immediately roots for Amy and cheers for her as she begins to own her own experiences and triumph over her own self doubt. Kenny also plays Amy’s sister, June, a brassy, aggressive go-getter with a heart of gold and the relationship between these two disparate women reminds us that as women we are not one another’s antagonist by default and often we can learn from each other’s differences more than from our similarities.

The play is well directed by Tania Levy with a good use of clear and specific movements, a nice sense of space and physicality, especially during the skating scenes and an efficient use of music and lighting to give the play some fun moments of atmosphere, such as during the “Roxanne” drinking game.

The play’s text could be finessed and streamlined a little more to make sure the pacing is continually driving the story forward and to intensify the punch of Kenny’s endearing and self deprecating comedy. Yet, overall, it is a lovely and sweet story that I hope inspires many people to resist the nagging inner voice that so often says, “No, I could never do that” and to, instead, nurture and embrace our inner Superhero that makes us all brave, unique and, ultimately, happy.

Watch the Trailer for the Show!

TWISI Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roller Derby Saved My Soul plays at the Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street) at the following times: 

August 30
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 8:15 PM
August 31
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 7:10 PM
September 1
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 9:30 PM
September 2
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 7:00 PM
September 5
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 8:15 PM
September 6
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 7:00 PM
September 7
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 3:00 PM
September 8
Museum of Natural History Theatre @ 3:00 PM

Tickets are $10.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm. 

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