Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – The Gift

Review by Shayli Robinson – Guest Writer

August 27, 2017

Eight years in the making, Surrounded By Owls Productions’ The Gift is the heart-wrenching and transformative autobiographical story of co-creator and co-star John Aitken’s youth.

Using brilliant facial expression, movement, song, and a drumbeat steady as a heart, Aitken (Coast Salish) and co-star Shelley MacDonald (Mi’kmaq) piece together fragments of his memories to bring their audience into a vivid dream-like state. They tell a story that too many indigenous families across Canada can relate to: a family traumatized by addiction, abuse, silence, and death, all stemmed from the violence of colonialism. Recognizing the heavy impact the show may have on their audience, the duo opens the floor into a talk-back in lieu of a talking circle for their last twenty minutes, both to unpack what was witnessed and answer questions that inevitably arise in an unspoken piece.

This last component is key, as the intents of all the piece’s phases are not immediately obvious, especially to those who haven’t experienced trauma of this nature.

Bottom Line

The Gift invites its audience into a deeply emotional story of trauma but also of transformation and growth. If you have an open heart and appreciate strong symbolism and body expression, this is a show for you to see.


The Gift

Surrounded By Owls Productions

Created by John Aitken & Gail Noonan

Victoria Fringe Festival

Venue 3 (Metro Studio Theatre)


  • Aug 27 @ 3:15pm
  • Aug 29 @ 5:00pm

Tickets $9


A deeply emotional story of trauma and transformation
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