Jen Gallant, hailing from Toronto, brings Visa Called This Morning, to the Atlantic Fringe Festival, reminding us all that no matter how much we avoid, ignore or deny it, most of us are ensnared in the sometimes charming, always devious, Web of Debt.
Gallant takes us into this nightmarish world in her one woman show throwing herself into dozens of different characters, each one with great specificity of voice, physicality and personality, and telling the story of one girl’s exodus on the lam from credit to cash. Her protagonist, Jen, is utterly endearing as she sheepishly chronicles her journey from exuberant five year old counting her pennies to a University student with three credit cards, a student line of credit and a propensity for attempting to buy herself out of her feelings.
She creates a lot of memorable characters such as Paula Dean, a Southern Belle host of a cooking show, J-Dawg, a bank employee and Rita (with a T), her neurotic and opinionated old neighbour who reminded me a bit of Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella. All these characters are like the ones you might expect from a solid sketch comedy show, representing a cross section of the population, showing off Gallant’s mastery of dialects and distinct vocal patterns. These are all high spirited and very funny to watch and to recognize these prototypes as being someone familiar, while still remaining distinctive. One moment that set Gallant’s show apart from many one person shows of this sort was a strikingly poignant monologue, about midway through, centering on our protagonist on her 9th birthday as she, an exuberant and precocious tomboy, attempts to connect with her female guests. It may not sound like it belongs in a play about Visa Cards, but is a strongly telling of Jen’s developing character, hooking the audience even more ardently to her side.
The thing that I think could benefit from being tightened up in this show is the rhymes in the lyrics to her singing interludes. She has a lovely voice, and although the singing does feel a bit out of left field, I think that the potential is there for these songs to be crisper, wittier and to further reflect the issues tackled in the show.
In all, Jen Gallant is a delight to watch and she tells a story that I know a lot of people will be able to relate to, although I’m sure they all wish they didn’t.
Visa Called This Morning Plays at the TNS Living Room (2353 Agricola Street) at the following times. It is $10.
Sunday September 4th 5:30pm
Monday September 5th 7:00pm
Tuesday September 6th 8:00pm
Wednesday September 7th, 8:00pm
Thursday September 8th, 7:00pm
Friday September 9th, 9:30pm
Saturday September 10th, 9:30pm
Sunday September 11th, 4:30pm
To book advanced tickets please visit Neptune Theatre’s Box Office, 1593 Argyle Street or call 902.429.7070 or visit www.atlanticfringe.ca.
Same Day Sales are available at the venue (Neptune Studio Theatre) From 1 Hour Before the First Show of the Day.