Play explores the magic of tinfoil dinosaurs
UVic Theatre alumnus Sam Mullins (BFA ‘08) returns to Victoria with stories of first loves, an army of rats, tinfoil dinosaurs, baseball, and the power of quietly helping someone with some good advice. That’s not to forget about the terror of aggressive baboons and a stuck bus window — all of them true stories.
Weaksauce & Other Stories isn’t stand-up comedy, not exclusively, though it does have some funny moments. It’s storytelling through a series of stand-alone monologues, which are nothing if not entertaining.
It takes serious talent to keep an audience engaged for an hour and a half regardless of the tone of the stories, be they comedic or dramatic. Mullins does a great job of toeing the line between the two to keep the audience listening intently. He is alone on stage save for the lighting changes, as well as some carefully worked shadows to imply that the location has changed in the story. For the second act, the stage takes on the feel of an open mic night, complete with rug, microphone, and a string of lights.
At times it feels like listening to “Vinyl Café.” Weaksauce & Other Stories feels cozy.
For the first act of the show, which focuses on Mullins’ summer romance during a hockey camp, he switches between different characters in the story, capturing them in a very down-to-earth way. Nothing feels too dramatic. He conveys that a bunch of teenagers are awkwardly stumbling around, or in one character’s case, David Oliver, just generally “bro-ing out.” It feels very human and true to life, both in the loud and quiet moments. The characters are based on real people, and no one is overly glorified or vilified. There’s a reason why Mullins plays the three major characters with their own way of talking and moving around. Each character reflects on the other. It’s apparent Mullins put a lot of effort into the way he carries himself to represent the characters, each of whom is well distinguished from the others.
Most of the humour is derived from “overthinking anything to the point of anxiety” and the thoughts that are drawn from such moments. This style of comedy balances out the more dramatic moments where things slow down temporarily, and Mullins allows the audience to breathe and settle into the mood he’s created. Some of those quieter moments are also genuinely sweet. A personal favourite of mine is the “tinfoil dinosaur” story — a cute little story about the small kindnesses of people. Remember, if someone asks you to make one for them, definitely take them up on the offer.
Weaksauce & Other Stories is a charming collection of funny and heartwarming stories about the big and little moments in life. If you have the chance, definitely check it out.
Weaksauce & Other Stories runs until Oct. 19 at the Phoenix Theatre. Tickets are available at https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/mainstage/season-2019-20/weaksauce/
Rush tickets are available for students 30 minutes before the performance for $16.