Dark Vanilla Jungle
DARK VANILLA JUNGLE
by Philip Ridley
A CANADIAN PREMIERE
Featuring Eva Foote
Directed by Wayne Paquette
Stage Managed by Joan Wyatt
Photographs by Mat Simpson Photography http://matsimpson.co/
Poster and Programs by Tynan Boyd and Joel Crichton
Presented at the 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
Playing at Rutherford School
Nominated for 2 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards
Outstanding Fringe Actress (Eva Foote)
Outstanding Fringe Director (Wayne Paquette)
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DARK VANILLA JUNGLE
“I was stung by a wasp once – shall I tell you about this? Well, its something you don’t know. And I have to start somewhere.”
Andrea keeps getting asked if she’s ashamed.
Ashamed of what she did to the soldier.
Of what she did to the baby.
But Andrea’s not ashamed at all.
And she wants to tell you why……
Dark Vanilla Jungle is a beautiful, breath-taking drama about one girl’s craving for family and home… and the lengths she will go to achieve them. Blarney Productions presents a chilling tale that dives deep into gang culture, female objectification and the ways trauma shapes young people.
“A Masterpiece… an absolute must-see”
– Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
“Shattering in its impact… blazing… sears the mind… a desperate Ophelia for our times.”
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VUE Weekly – Alex MacPherson
A disturbing psychological drama about a broken woman struggling to find a family that loves her, no matter the cost. Andrea (Eva Foote) snarls, giggles, and recites her tragic life of trauma and betrayal on stage without flinching or blaming. Dark Vanilla Jungle manages to be brutal without being violent, visceral without being gory. The endless nihilism challenges the audience to find any good in Andrea’s world—a world of rape, cruelty, objectification and madness. Foote’s portrayal of Andrea is flawless. She switches between innocent and deranged in an instant, never letting the audience relax. The subject matter is challenging and dark. Dark Vanilla Jungle is a Lars Von Trier film on stage.
5 STARS out of 5
The Edmonton Journal – Liz Nicholls
In Dark Vanilla Jungle, the remarkable young Edmonton actor Eva Foote, still in her teens, delivers a riveting performance in a lacerating psychological drama of sexual brutality, terror, and delusion in a savage world. You won’t be taking your eyes off her for 75 horrifying, unstoppable minutes.
The play, by the controversial Brit Philip Ridley, is a relentless spiral of emotional abuse, abandonment, sexual violence. And then, when you think that misery has nowhere else to go, there’s more. Be prepared to flinch.
Foote is Andrea, a teenage girl neglected by her mother, whose “life as an invisible” person begins when her father gets out of the slammer. To say that one thing leads to another is a mild understatement — abduction by an alluring older guy who pimps her out at druggie sex orgies just for starters. Later, she throws herself at a wounded soldier in the hospital, constructs a fantasy marriage, has a baby that unaccountably disappears.
In Wayne Paquette’s astutely paced production, Foote, remarkably, makes this journey from innocence into madness and hysteria into compelling drama. Weirdly attentive to details, with oddly poetic annotations, she never stops talking to us, a disintegrating portrait of multiple distractions, pausing only to drag herself back from tangents into which she’s wandered on a flickering stream of memories. “What was I talking about? Ah yes….”
Is she being interrogated by the police? The psychiatric unit at an asylum? Ophelia was lucky; she had an unsatisfactory boyfriend, too. But when she went mad, she just floated down a river.
It’s a virtuoso performance that transcends itself to make a play happen.
4.5 STARS out of 5
The Edmonton Sun – Colin MacLean
Dark Vanilla Jungle is a brutal, profoundly melancholy theatrical experience powered by a blistering performance from 19 year old local actress, Eva Foote.
Andrea’s foul-mouthed, hate-filled mother is sexually promiscuous. When the teen’s supposed real father is released from prison, the only interest he has in her is one of possible abuse. She feels invisible to the point that when she stands between him and the television to say good night — he sees right through her.
Adrift in a loveless world, she becomes the perfect target for Tyrone — a dude with a gold tooth and a well practiced line for the ladies. Andrea thinks she’s deeply in love with him — even when he pimps her out to drug orgies. She finds out he’s married with children. Still desperately searching for something in her empty life, she constructs a fantasy relationship with a fallen soldier she meets when they end up in the same hospital. He has lost several limbs and probably his capacity to think. She imagines she’s pregnant by him. Andrea imposes herself on his family and it’s only when she grotesquely tries to consummate her delusional marriage that she is thrown out.
As she pursues her tortured pursuit for love, she drifts more and more deeply into a psychedelic world of madness, often given to fits of uncontrolled rage.
Foote’s searing performance as Andrea descends through the levels of her own personal hell is phenomenal. Her pain is wrenching (and exhausting) to watch. No matter how dark her descent or lurid the events, the performer and director Wayne Paquette keep it believable.
One of the problems with the fringe is that sometimes a performer is not matched with the venue. This Blarney Productions production is in the gym of Rutherford School. That’s fine for the silly shenanigans of Channeling Kevin Spacey but Dark Vanilla Jungle is an agonizing and intimate portrait of a young girl’s dissolution and Foote occasionally gets lost in the vast reaches of the hall. Sometimes, sadly, her young voice is absorbed by the space making it difficult to understand her.
4 SUNS out of 5
PLEASE CHECK OUT EVA FOOTE’S NEW CD
SPARROW & STONE
Poster by Tynan Boyd