The Future is Now

 

This Vancouver Fringe Fest show has Missie Peters unsurprisingly asking the question “Where is my flying car?” It is the year 2012 after all. From the Jetsons to trashy sci-fi novels we were all promised to be racing around on hover boards and colonising Mars by now. This one woman show explores hopes and ideas about the future. Peters does this all in a snazzy silver jumpsuit. This lets you know immediately how enthralled with all things futuristic she really is. With the help of just white cards and clever lighting Peters creates a future full of lonely robots, hypnotic grocery stores and elusive flying cars. She weaves into the story a personal narrative of her long held love for sci-fi and the future. This funny and sometimes touching show is constructed through a series of poems, monologues and audience participation pieces.

We learn that Peters’ love affair with science fiction stemmed from her childhood as an evangelical Christian.  Apparently preparing for the imminent rapture gets a girl thinking about the future. She imagined the future would be a glittering world of shiny jumpsuit uniforms, robots, flying cars and endless possibilities. The show is a kind of exploration of her adult disappointment with the ‘future’ combined with a curiosity of what the future may still hold. Her enthusiasm for the future is infectious. Space-Age terms and quasi-technological jargon tumble out of her mouth until words like fiber optic and flux capacitor sound poetic.

Peters is an award-winning spoken word performer from Victoria, BC.  She is a natural performer with great comic timing. The biggest laughs came from the smallest gestures and subtlest of facial expressions. She knows how to engage a crowd and some of the best moments stemmed from audience interaction. She performed a found sound poem which required different sections of the audience to make technological beeps and whirrs on command. The poem ran through the great moments of sci-fi entertainment from Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The show was packed with visual jokes and clever one-liners. My personal favourite line came at the end when Peters delivered a curiously affecting monologue told from the perspective of a depressed human in a bleak future. In a deadpan, monotone voice she said that she has to pose in an advertisement “holding a ferret. (Pause) We ran out of kittens.”

The future she explores is frightening but only because it seems so grounded in our present. She has a recurring piece where she goes to the grocery store and mindlessly fills her cart with unnecessary and bland consumer goods. The only difference to now is her hover cart and robot cashiers. She also explores the theme of loneliness. Will all these new technological advances bring us together or make us feel more isolated than ever? Will we lose our humanity as we become increasingly hunched over our computers, as we remain constantly online? Although there she conjures up a cold, bleak future she ultimately imparts the idea that it is up to all of us to define our future. However she cuts through any easy sentimentality with razor sharp humour. She tells us that thousands of years into the future with all of its unimaginable advances “We still do not have flying cars. Seriously.”

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien fills many the happy hour as contributing editor and writer for the Vancouver Weekly. She can be found eating all the nibbles at book launches or getting lost in tiny secondhand book stores. Follow her on twitter @jesso_brien