Thursday, February 5, 2009


My review of Skydive appears in this week's WE.

James Sanders and Bob Frazer take to the air in Skydive.

James Sanders and Bob Frazer take to the air in Skydive.

By Andrea Warner

Taking its second bow in three years as part of the PuSh Festival, Skydive, Vancouver playwright Kevin Kerr's aerial comedy, was written specifically for its two leads, real-life good friends Bob Frazer and James Sanders. As much spectacle as comedy, Skydive transcends traditional stage plays in that it's also a feat of engineering, literally making a quadriplegic man fly.

Kerr's script focuses on polar-opposite brothers Morgan (Sanders), a middle-aged loafer who couch-surfs and spends his time offering advice as an unlicensed therapist, and Daniel (Frazer), a brainy agoraphobe who can't get past his psychological traumas. Reunited in their mother's house after she's moved into a nursing home, Morgan tries to encourage Daniel to live up to his end of a childhood pact and confront his biggest fears by going skydiving.

Skydive tackles weighty issues like family dysfunction with generous doses of comedy, attempting to prove that laughter really is the best medicine. Sometimes it is; when the jokes work, they're often laugh-out-loud funny. But others, particularly in the first 30 minutes, feel as stale as the punch lines from an episode of Two and a Half Men. In addition, the last 10 minutes feel heavy-handed, with the play's themes of fear and lives half-lived getting shoved down the audience's throat.

Skydive's real triumph is that throughout almost the entire production, Frazer and Sanders seem to float through space, each attached to a long pole operated by mostly unseen hands. The duo really do appear to fly, and many audience members will likely be unaware that Sanders is confined to a wheelchair in real life. While the actors may not actually fly through the air with the greatest of ease, Skydive's brilliant machinations ultimately help this hit-and-miss comedy take off.

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