Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – lolcow
Review by Kelly J Clark – Showbill.ca Managing Editor
August 25, 2017
Disclaimer: Robbie Hubner is a writer with Showbill.ca.
Lolcow is a strange animal. It combines traditional stage acting, a modernised Greek chorus, hilarious multimedia clips, and even a vocal performance number to create a surreal chimera of a dark comedy piece that investigates the negative side of internet fame. Is there a way to find privacy in a world becoming more digital every day?
Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes stars as Sheena, the implied too-young girlfriend of Shadow Lord Stan, a lowbrow professional YouTuber and satire of the entire Let’s Play industry played deliciously by Alex Judd. Sheena is desperate for stability, acceptance, and culture, all of which remain tragically out of reach. Everything falls apart when a trio of trolls, played perfectly by Caitlin Holm, Annie Konstantinova, and Taryn Roo Yonedaa, target her because of her relationship.
Lamothe-Kipnes brings a solid performance as the cloying harpy that is Sheena. She’s a sad, desperate woman and it’s easy to want her to succeed because we don’t know enough about her for us to want her to fail. And that’s the problem with Lolcow: black comedy only works when the audience lacks sympathy for the protagonist. We’re simply not given enough reasons to hate our victim more than we pity her.
Sure, she’s dating a clod and we’re told that she’s said some questionable things in her youth, has never worked, and she’s whiny and devoid of culture, but is that enough to laugh at her ruination? Rather than delight, we feel a profound sense of sadness as we watch her life crumble under the onslaught of malicious attacks. Is the joke here that she stays with a cloddish boyfriend and deserves pain? We’re never shown how Stan is when he’s not in his on-camera persona, which is a strength. Is the joke is that her boyfriend does something for a living that implies that he’s a loser? If so, that disdainful veneer doesn’t hold up to the fact that his childish job is still exactly that: work that he spends twelve hours a day on to support them both. Ultimately, her loyalty, even to someone like Stan, doesn’t justify the pain that she’s put through or our participation in it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Our lack of loathing for the protagonist makes Lolcow more of a cautionary tale than a dark comedy and that downward shift is a jarring note to leave on. The show’s blessed with a great cast and solid premise, but the third act’s derailment sours the whole.
Hawk Mom Productions
Created by Robbie Huebner
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 5 (Langham Court Theatre)
- Aug 26 @ 9:00pm
- Aug 27 @ 12:30pm
- Aug 29 @ 7:15pm
- Aug 31 @ 7:45pm
- Sept 2 @ 3:00pm