Vance Gillis’ play “The Kicker” caused much laughter and eye-brows raising in disbelief on Wednesday night at the Fringe Festival. Inspired by the documentary “Live from New York”, Gillis’ play is a comedic piece showcasing the lack of respect shown towards women in comedy.
“They would sort of outwardly treat women like they weren’t equals to men on the show, which I found really interesting because some of the funniest comedians ever came through that show,” said Gillis.
His play was an accurate portrayal of such discriminatory behaviour. Set in the 1980s, the story took place on a comedy set, where Gillis plays the director of the show, Don. He insists that Heather, played by Bianca Dominique Yates, deliver her lines like she’s “dumb and horny”. Yates comically provided a sarcastic and exaggerated rendition of those lines, clearly unnerved by her sexist boss.
The story progresses and reveals that Don and Heather were having an affair, which further complicated matters and increased the palpable tension between the two characters. Heather’s frustration reaches new peaks when Don keeps rejecting her idea for a movie pitch featuring 30 year old divorced women travelling to Hawaii.
However, Heather finds out that Don was keeping secrets from her. Firstly, he hires a new, stereotypical sexy and flirtatious actress named Deedee, portrayed by Alex Taylor. She is set to become the new star of the show. Secondly, Heather finds out that Don decided to roll with her movie idea but he replaced the female leads with men.
The true beauty of female empowerment is revealed towards the end of the when the on-set makeup artist portrayed by Alex Brown teamed up with Deedee to convince Heather to confront Don and make him give her job and movie script back. In the end, Heather got her way. The women managed to defeat a sexist, condescending producer who just couldn’t handle the heat.
The actors managed to take a serious problem and add a comedic spin to it, without minimizing the issue at hand. Overall, it was a great group effort that keeps getting better and better as the festival progresses.
“I think we were all pretty energized,” said Yates. “People are getting more and more comfortable with their characters.”