Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – Hyena Subpoena

Review by Caitlin Baird – Staff Writer

September 1, 2017

Montreal-based Cat Kidd’s Hyena Subpoena is a multimedia series of spoken-word poems connected by their zoological imagery. Kidd is a compelling performer, and shifts her voice and movements in and out of an array of identities. Her distinctive voice honeys over intricate metre, at turns rhythmic, colloquial, songlike. The soundscape, by Jacky Murda, is percussive and witchy, and samples styles widely to match Kidd’s restless poetry.

Hyena takes a while to find its stride, and ends abruptly. While imagistically linked, the poems don’t weave a larger tapestry. Stories do get more personal as the piece progresses and the focus turns increasingly inward. Kidd tackles poverty in both British Columbia and South Africa, childhood bullying, institutionalisation, and sexual violence. Perhaps rearrangement, or a stronger reference back to the opening hyenas, could give the show a stronger sense of narrative unity.

Many of Kidd’s tales are told in second-person, which gives these stories to us as though to make us complicit in their content. It’s ambiguous whether all the poems are from the perspective of the same speaker.

The staging is most delightful in its lighting choices, which include a hand-held flashlight and projections of the animals evoked within each poem. The set, a tent, cooler, and other camping accoutrements, serve as good backdrop for projections and physical gags.

Bottom Line

Hyena Subpoena promises to please spoken-word fans and theatre-goers alike, as long as they don’t expect a single dominant narrative. Kidd is an accomplished talent and the production glows with technical polish. But Hyena Subpoena left me peculiarly unmoved.


Hyena Subpoena

Created by Cat Kidd

Victoria Fringe Festival

Venue 5 (Langham Court Theatre)

  • Sept 1 @ 7:15pm
  • Sept 2 @ 9:30pm
  • Sept 3 @ 8:15pm

Tickets: Regular $11 / Students & Seniors $9

An accomplished talent, but lacking a moving narrative
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