Friday, February 23, 2018

Victoria Fringe Fest 2017 review: Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy hits hard, with personality

September 5, 2017 by Elias Orrego, contributing writer

One of the great solo productions at the Victoria Fringe Festival this year was Mark Hughes’ one-man show, Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy. In the show, the Vancouver-based comic takes the audience through his troubled past, where neglect, abuse, crime, and addiction run rampant. Never afraid of a faux pas, Hughes finds the humour in even the most twisted and heart-wrenching events in his life.

Mark Hughes brought his solo comedy performance, Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy, to this year’s Fringe (photo provided).

Aside from one or two minor descriptions in the middle that were a little confusing (too much hinted foreshadowing or backstory to the backstory), the show is easy to follow and to identify with. Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy proves that Hughes has mastered the use of analogy to demonstrate the pull of a life of crime and drugs. In order to show the draw of recovery, he uses honest and concise, descriptive language to display the haunting effects of leading such a life. Without props other than his own smartphone, Hughes calls on the audience’s imagination as he describes the interesting variety of events in his life. Music and lighting are also effectively used to create contrast and emphasize mood during the show.

The story is told in the conversational style of a stand-up comedian, which helped such dark themes be more accessible.

There’s never a dull moment and it takes attentive ears to keep up, but it’s worth every effort to stay tuned in, and it was easy, for the most part. Hughes’ delivery was unpretentious and he included the audience in expressions of anger, sorrow, and joy. He even, at times, singles out individuals in the crowd, to make the story that much more personal.

Undoubtedly, I was not the only one to be shocked at some of the jokes I was capable of laughing at, and I’m sure I was not the only one moved to tears.

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