Theatre Review: A Fabulous Disaster avoids disaster fabulously

There are times in life when people are so disillusioned, all they can do is ask, ‘how did my life get like this?’ This is the question asked by the character in One Yellow Rabbit’s production of A Fabulous Disaster, a tragic comedy that deals with a broken heart.

No offense to Denise Clarke, who wrote and stars in the show, but heartbreak has happened to everyone, their dog, their cat, and their fish. And if it hasn’t happened to people, they have witnessed it in at least three dozen movies. Surprisingly though, A Fabulous Disaster is still enormously entertaining. The show lasts a short sixty minutes but provides the audience with more pure emotion than viewers are likely to find in many three hour films.

Placed in a contemporary Canadian setting, this one-woman show follows a recently dumped individual stranded in a forest during a wildfire, battling to save the animals, herself and her heart. The nameless character tirelessly fights to rescue the wild creatures as a way to deal with her recent divorce and her unwanted life of loneliness. Poignant and elegant, A Fabulous Disaster bounces through the themes of love, jealously and belonging to create a play people, and their pets, can relate to.

Clarke manages to keep the play enjoyable by avoiding the cliches about love and scorned lovers. The completeness of her character is beautiful; she is truly lost in disaster. The character steers clear from run-of-the-mill drama and reacts to life’s disappointments in such an emotionally realistic way audiences long to protect her from a world of letdowns. At first, the exaggerated movements from Clarke’s character seem unnatural, but as the show continues these expansive actions develop into a complex dance, intertwining the arts of ballet and acting to wholly develop the character.

A Fabulous Disaster focuses around three mistakes Clarke’s character made, landing her in her current situation. As she tells the audience about her past, the character begins to question just exactly why her life is where it is. The way in which A Fabulous Disaster reveals itself is part of its charm, as each line within peels away a part of the mystery until finally the audience is able to understand the story and also the motivations of the character.

As one of Calgary’s original theatre companies, One Yellow Rabbit is known for their unconventional and captivating productions. Denise Clarke has upheld their reputation with her beautiful story and acting in A Fabulous Disaster. The show is not without its faults as it does have lulls and can be monotonous when the character goes off on long-winded speeches, but its carefully weaved storyline presents an opportunity for an entertaining night out at the theatre.

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