Vancouver Fringe Festival review: The Birdmann gets deliciously surreal

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Near the beginning of his understated vaudeville act, the Birdmann says, “I don’t actually do anything. It’s just fantastic to be here with you.” And, off the top, the nothing he does isn’t terrifically interesting. He plays “Love Me Tender” on a comb while wearing a plastic bag over his head. So what? And some of the jokes are stale: “Touring the world, I’ve learned that black is the new black.” But, as the show progresses, the quality of the one-liners skyrockets: “I wanted to be born again, but my mother wasn’t interested.” And the sweetness of the Birdmann’s intention to entertain gets deliciously surreal: he throws objects at a board, hoping they’ll stick, starting with knives and progressing to blunter things like kitchen tongs. He leads the audience in unlikely meditation exercises and expresses sincere concern for the environment as he does tricks with plastic bags. By the end, it really is fantastic to be there with him as he… Well, I won’t give that away. Just remember the Birdmann’s refrain: “It’s okay to be free.”

At Performance Works on September 9 (5 p.m.), 11 (7:50 p.m.), 12 (5 p.m.), 14 (5:15 p.m.), 16 (8:45 p.m.), and 17 (2:10 p.m.)

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