Vancouver Fringe Festival review: Pretty Beast

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      Kazu Kusano’s hilarious and devastating Pretty Beast tells the story of how she ended up in L.A. at 35 years old, making her unlikely dream of becoming a comedian and an actor come true. Sort of.

      She details growing up in Japan in a deeply dysfunctional family, coping with a lifetime of trauma and sexism through comedy.

      Kusano’s mother and father are fascinating, difficult people. Her mother, a former beauty queen, cannot cope with her mental illness and her father, who travels for long stretches on business, sees nothing inappropriate about describing the cultural differences of sex workers around the world to his eight-year-old daughter.

      Kusano doesn’t shy away from talking about the awful ways they treated her, but there’s also love, generosity, and warmth in how she portrays them because family is complicated.

      Kusano’s comedy is as biting as it is refreshing, and though some of the storytelling beats feel like they still need a bit of work, Pretty Beast signals a bold and important new voice in comedy and theatre.