Victoria Fringe Festival 2017 – Jukebox Drive
Review by Hugo Wong – Showbill.ca Guest Writer
August 26, 2017
The pre-show speech to Friday’s 11:15 pm showing of Jukebox Drive noted that it was the latest show of the entire festival. As it took place at the Victoria Event Centre, the bar was open for people looking to unwind after a long night of Fringing, but instead of a snack menu on the table, there was a track list.
With each show, the audience chooses a song to underscore the first and last scene of this improvised road trip comedy — the rest of the tracks are from a big randomised playlist — and there is a different special guest each night that joins the main cast (Amy Culliford, Bill Nance, Jonah McKeen, and Natasha Guerra). Friday’s special guest was Nicole Olszewski (also in Paper St. Theatre’s War: Improv Is Hell), and that night featured a couple, eight months into their relationship, going on a long trip to Calgary to attend an ex-girlfriend’s wedding. Along the way, there were flashbacks of McKeen and his old flame trying to split up their stuff, and gut-busting scenes with Nance and Olszewski as McKeen’s dysfunctional parents.
As with so much improv, the high-energy scenes garnered the loudest audience reactions, as opposed to the (intentional) awkward tedium of the young travelers trapped in a car together. Those scenes established the relationship between the main couple, but they sometimes dragged while the random song ended. The show could have also integrated the soundtrack better, because the direction of the plot did not seem influenced by the music over the speakers — but with so many classic love songs and pop hits, there were plenty of opportunities. Producer Chris Rudram assembled a cast with great chemistry, and since it’s not scripted, one night can differ wildly from another.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Like any good road trip, Jukebox Drive has its ups and downs, but each one is different, so buy the ticket, take the ride.
Created by Chris Rudram
Victoria Fringe Festival
Venue 1 (Victoria Event Centre)
- Aug 27 @ 6:00pm
- Sept 1 @ 9:15pm
- Sept 2 @ 9:30pm