Ryan Gladstone is quite amazing because he doesn’t seem to fit into any accepted categories. Part stand up comic, part mime, part professor of comparative literature, popular culture and theories of Narratologie, and he is also a very smooth actor. You cant beat that.
On stage, he saunters out with his hands in his pockets, like some cocky lecturer in front of a whole auditorium of young adults who aren’t sure what they have signed up for. Then, he begins telling stories. In fact he tells all the stories that exist (according to him) by condensing them down into their basic plot structures and then inserting the characters from many many novels just to show us how many of these writings have similar origins. He did hilarious capsules of War and Peace, of Great Expectations – the fatter the novel the juicier the performance – , of Cinderella, of Carmen, of Greek classics, of the Tales of the Arabian nights, of the Bronte sisters, and the Walkürie, as well as the really horrible authentic versions of Grimm¹s fairy tales which you don’t what your children to read! He had us all in stitches.
And then just to interest the younger crowd who don’t read those big thick books any more, he slipped in mimed references to some classic films : Casa Blanca, City Lights, all 5 episodes of Rocky… all the Law and Order and CSI TV crime drama, Batman and the list goes on. He keeps going at a rapid fire rate and as I choked with laughter I felt my brain getting frazzled with so much information to process so quickly and in such a short time.
However, after 45 minutes something happened, He changed his strategy. Someone obviously told him that Fringe theatre must do some audience participation. So he started trying to get the audience involved by improvising. He asked us to chose a subject, a theme, characters, a situation, whatever. And that was when he lost it. The show got sloppy, the rythm broke down, he forgot names he’d been told. Those last 15 minutes of spontaneous stuff were not good because at that point, the show became a commonplace improv of the kind everyone else at the Fringe was doing. It lost its originality and Gladstone’s original idea is much superior to that. He has to drop all the improv business and end right there. No one will mind, because the first 45 minutes of the prepared material were exciting enough. He had us glued to his every word and laughing until we couldn’t bear it any more.
So without the silly improv at the end, this show is one of the great moments of the Fringe and certainly a must see.. Its good for the mind, for the soul and for the funny bone…and you can leave after 45 minutes!!
Every Story Ever Told plays at the Arts Court Theatre
Every Story Ever Told
Monster Theatre, Vancouver
Written and performed by Ryan Gladstone
In the Arts Court Theatre