Kitt & Jane: Pure Brilliance
I’m going to get right to the point and say that I can’t recommend this show highly enough. Kitt & Jane: an Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future presented by SNAFU Dance Theatre is excellent. Showcasing the delightfully adorable quirks best known from SNAFU’s prequel, of sorts, Little Orange Man, the pointed social commentary will leave you thinking long after the show has ended. Seriously, get your tickets in advance for this because once word spreads about the top quality of this show, they will go fast.
The major premise of this show is that Kitt, played by Ingrid Hansen(co-creator) and Jane, played by Rod Peter Jr. (co-creator), have hijacked their school assembly in order to warn the school about the near-post-apocalyptic future and teach mankind how to endure. We see dramatic re-enactments of how the two friends first stumbled upon what they believe to be the first signs of the world ending, and as a result they have taken matters into their own hands and begin preparing for the end of civilization by experimenting with different survival tactics. Though maintaining a charming balance between humour, audience interaction, and live musical numbers, it is ultimately a poignant look at the world we are leaving behind us.
(Photo cred: Jam Hamidi)
The text is wonderfully written. Its ideas are layered and nuanced and never at any point does it feel clichéd or didactic. It is not simply two teens experiencing the awkwardness of puberty, or the social hierarchies of high school, though it does touch on both of these things; it is a more complex story about two young adults discovering and accepting for the first time that their world is on a steady path to destruction. It also explores the impulsiveness within these two wannabe revolutionaries, as well as the angst and the helplessness felt when they realize their best efforts still aren’t enough.
I am especially impressed by the overall design of this piece and all the different elements it uses to keep audiences engaged throughout this entire (approximately) 90 minute performance. The hanging white sheet upstage is used for both incredible shadow work and for projecting the live stream video recording of the show. The light-box signalling the “dramatic re-enactments” is cheeky yet practical and the combination of the paper easel pad and the podium are effective in reminding the audience that this is still a high school assembly. In sum, there is much visual variety in this piece that keeps you excited for what comes next.
I would be remiss if I did not mention how great the acting is in this piece. Hansen and Peter Jr. are absolutely brilliant. Individually they are three dimensional and distinct from each other, yet through their pre-recorded voice journals we understand how similar they actually are. Together their chemistry is pure magic. Kathleen Greenfield (guest starring as the school principal introducing the assembly) should also be commended for her role as co-creator and director; her contribution no doubt helped strengthened the trajectory of this piece.
I feel as though I could write pages and pages on this exceptional show as it gives you a lot to analyze and discuss. However, given the nature of the Ottawa Fringe Festival and in the interest of time, I cannot. So what I will leave you with is this: Kitt & Jane is easily one of the strongest pieces of theatre I have seen thus far at this year’s festival. If you miss it, you will most certainly regret it because this is the kind of show that gets talked about for years to come.