Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – Beaver Dreams
Review by Chad Jarvie-Laidlaw – Showbill.ca Editorial Director
August 28, 2017
Through delightful puppetry and projections, Beaver Dreams tells the intergenerational tale of a colony of beavers and a family sharing the land, the lake, and the same fears in the cottage country of rural Quebec.
Sounding somewhere between excited pigeons and ducks, Maggie Winston and Mika Laulainen are a pair of goofy beavers, that gambol about the stage while telling (mostly nonverbally) the story of the first settlers at the lake and their yearly war against the beaver dam which raises the water level unacceptably. The humans and the beavers share the same fear of the lake being overdeveloped by encroaching civilization, though clearly through two different lenses. This is all inspired by Winston’s own family cabin in Quebec, and the production features clips from interviews with her family, sharing their thoughts on the lake and the beaver colonies.
The show is nearly flawless as a piece of Canadiana and feels like a living representation of an old NFB short. Winston and Laulainen deliver all the live narration in both English and French, and don flannel when converting into various of their settler personae. The supporting projections are animated in a style familiar to anyone who watched CBC on Sunday afternoons as a child. While all voice-overs are true accounts from Winston’s family, some feel more scripted and polished, lacking the informal authenticity of some members of the family. Similarly, the video projections are not seamless in their integration to the overall work, contributing to a sometimes jerky pace. That said, there is real magic in the story and storytelling, and any issues with pacing are bound to only improve.
Beaver Dreams is a joyous ride through one family’s relationship with the land, and the animals that already call it home. Fun, silly, and full of heart, it is the perfect show to take anyone who loves the majesty of the natural world around us.
Lost And Found Puppet Co.
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 1 (Metro Studio Theatre)
- Aug 29 @ 7:45pm
- Sept 1 @ 8:15pm
- Sept 2 @ 12:00pm