by Mike Muller
DuoFest closed out Saturday night with Vancouver’s Virginia Jack (Briana Rayner and Nicole Passmore) literally taking us where no man has gone before. Giving the audience suggestions more consideration than the other acts of the evening, the two eventually decided that “space ship” was the location around which they would build a one-act play.
If you’re unfamiliar with Virginia Jack, they’re one of the more erudite and fantastically bizarre duos working the fest, and their take on character development is uniquely weird in the best way possible. They start off by introducing us to the cast of characters, then sprinkling seedlings of ideas on top of them which germinate throughout the show.
On this particular evening, we had the privilege of meeting starship captain Reginald Aloysius Pump, a man’s man celebrated in Bill Brasky-like fashion. We also met his first mate, Jackson Malone, a huge cartography fan whose multiple lobotomies left him unable to say the word “vagina,”. Finally, the ship’s engineer, Piper Spaghetti was the bombshell dingbat who loves intercourse and her illegal houseplant she keeps in her cabin.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Jackson Malone plans to usurp control of the ship as revenge for Captain Pump taking the ship into uncharted territory, rendering Malone’s cartography useless. Piper is shot in the attempt to save Captain Pump’s life/seduce him and the audience roared when Malone says they’ll, “never find the cure for his space bullets.”
Briana and Nicole’s unique way of switching roles really helps flesh out fully realized characters instead of simply place-holding comedic archetypes used to get to a punchline. They build on each other’s ideas well and have a knack for bringing the small details back around before wrapping up. Virginia Jack showed a full spectrum of what is possible with the Duo format.
Mike Muller has written for Phillyist and UntiedMag.com.