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Fringe review: Hope Soup

Hope Soup
Directed by Davina Stewart; Snowflake Productions; Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre; until Fri., Aug. 23.
Our Score
Hope Soup

Radio dramas declined in popularity as TVs became household appliances, but they’ve been seeing a comeback lately. While you can mostly find them online, Snowflake Productions brings Hope Soup by Katherine Koller to the stage.

The tale begins with a word from Pete (Colin Matty) of Pete’s Pawn Shop, who invites you to hear the story behind a music box—one of the few things in his shop not for sale, along with a couch he rents out to people who need a place to stay. One of those individuals is Jodi (Erin Pettifor), whose sister Lucy gave Pete the music box. Jodi is trying to duck Ryder (Jake Tkaczyk), the neighbourhood pimp who wants her to pay back what her mother and sister owe him. But Jodi is also helping out the woman who raised him, Nanny Grey (Judy McFerran), and so their paths inevitably cross. Nanny Grey winds up offering Jodi a place to stay, on the condition that she helps the older woman make soup for the neighbourhood ‘ladies’ and the lives of all three—Jodi, Ryder and Nanny Grey—will be forever changed.

In addition to playing Pete, Matty provides the sound effects for the radio play, and does a great job. Not only is it fun to see how he makes each sound, but all of the sound effect paraphernalia lends itself perfectly to the set of a pawn shop. McFerran is delightful as Nanny Grey, hitting the right motherly notes, but also playing it tough when necessary. Pettifor nicely captures Jodi’s vulnerability and despair, but also her growing hope. She also manages to imbue the character with a sense of innocence, despite all she’s been through. Tkaczyk is absolutely hateful as Ryder—which is the point—but is still able to convincingly convey the character’s gentler moments.

This play covers some depressing territory, but ultimately—as one might expect from the title—offers a heaping helping of hope.

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