Vancouver Fringe Festival solo show: Chase Breyer

Rod Peter Jr.'s one-man work parodies action films and injects them with a strong dose of Cancon

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      It takes guts to step into the spotlight alone and bare your soul. The Straight talked to a few brave performers going it alone at this year's Fringe Fest. Here's one of them:

      “Part-time substitute teacher, full-time Canadian super spy.” The premise is right there in the subtitle of SNAFU’s zany new play, Chase Breyer.

      The one-man show starring Rod Peter Jr. is set during the 2015 Canadian election. Chase Breyer tells the story of a lovable but obnoxiously macho superspy who learns that his fellow agent, Céline Dion, has gone missing while trying to uncover a secret plot by Stephen Harper to skew the election.

      While attempting to rescue her, Chase learns that Harper has been developing a Canadian Death Star powered by the word sorry, leading him on a mission that involves battling robot spiders, evading laser beams, and befriending Gord Downie as Chewbacca—all while taking his students on a field trip to Victoria’s Goldstream Park.

      As you can see, there’s a lot going on here. Peter explains that he wanted his show to be a send-up of the ridiculous action movies that he watched as a child. Reflecting on them now, he sees that these films actually have not only a lot of nonsensical elements—“Why do you have to skydive into a place? Why can’t you just go there?”—but also a lot of problematic ones.

      “As an adult, you realize that [in action films] there’s a lot of, like, ‘I’m a white guy doing all these things, I’m saving the world and everyone loves me because of who I am,’ and there’s all these different categories of people that are not being represented at all,” he says. “I don’t want to hit it over the head with a hammer, but it’s why I have a character called Miss Unnecessarily Sexualized Last Name.”

      Peter might be parodying action films and injecting them with a strong dose of Cancon, but he’s also hoping that Chase Breyer can bring something more action-packed to the Fringe.

      “What I’m interested in doing is trying to create a movie aspect on-stage to the average person that doesn’t necessarily go see theatre,” he says. “I want to engage young people. I love having nine-year-olds and 12-year-olds in the show and getting them involved in something where they go, ‘Oh, it’s like watching a movie.’ ”

      Extending the movie metaphor further, Peter jokes that since all of SNAFU’s plays have overlapping characters, they exist within the “SNAFU Universe”. And if the Victoria-based multidisciplinary company’s previous plays were of varying degrees of silliness, he says this one is their Thor: Ragnarok. “It’s just super crazy,” he says. “Everything’s very different, but it’s all very much connected [to the other plays].”