While growing into BC largest theatre festival, the Vancouver Fringe Festival has championed “theatre for everyone” allowing it to be filled with productions that can be personal, profound, intimate, bold or all of the above.
How to Believe in Anything, by Ariel Slack is one of those ‘all of the above’ shows. The solo performance, directed by Chris Lam, stars Ariel as a quiet 14 year-old, Sam, who is looking for an escape from her current life. Like many teens, Sam, isn’t sure where they fit into society. A fascination with aliens, questions about her mother (who is ‘gone, gone’, according to her father), and a lack of friends opens up Ariel to ridicule, it’s no wonder she wants out from her traumatic existence.
Ariel has written and performs the monologue as though she’s recounting an escapade to the audience, but are we also her therapist? As noted in the dialogue, Sam just needs someone to believe in her so she can believe in herself, and it seems, to get the weight of the universe off her shoulders. It’s tough being the representative of humankind waiting for your alien friend to whisk you away to destinations unknown in the name of science.
How to Believe in Anything does make us want to believe that there is something else out there, at least for Sam’s sake. As she shares her deeply personal story, the audience roots for her to win in what seems like an unwinnable sweepstakes of her life, so she can have a ‘future made of stars’ that she seeks.
While the performance has a short 40 minute run-time, there is a fully formed world contained in the script. It felt like How to Believe in Anything could be the synopsis of an M. Night Shyamalan film, an engaging thriller touching on sci-fi, supernatural, horror, and fantasy. Leaving us wanting the sequel to find out what lays ahead for young Sam.
How to Believe in Anything continues throughout the Vancouver Fringe Festival with performances, September 12, 14, 16, 18 at Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Ave. Vancouver.
Find tickets for this and other performances at vancouverfringe.com