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Pochsy is struggling with the fact that she was replaced at her job by a robot. But her luck is about to change when a phone call informing her she had won a cruise takes her on a 40 day retreat complete with a vision from God and a violent interaction with a child.
Pochsy IV is the newest offering from award-winning playwright and performer Karen Hines. The one woman show centres around the inner musings of Pochsy, a newly unemployed mercury plant worker, who comedically navigates the shortcomings of her dystopian world.
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Hines made her Pochsy — pronounced Pock-see — debut at the Fringe in 1992. Since then, she has produced and starred in several theatrical and film reboots of the Canadian cult icon.
Calgary-based Hines had her start with Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe and has since performed in the Emmy-Award winning TV series The Newsroom and Comedy Central’s Married Life.
The scene opens as the wind howls over the empty set like it would over any desolate landscape. The set is the standard draped black background with meagre set dressings: a small metal shelf and a small circular riser which serves as the platform for Pochsy’s stage act.
Pochsy emerges from the darkness looking as a destitute but fashionable bag lady who takes to the riser and acknowledges the audience as any lounge performer in Vegas might do. She opens her act with a cheerful ditty injected with running commentary.
The audience laughs heartily at a dry delivery of anecdotes laced with poetic observations about the sad state of the world. There is an audible sigh from the audience when Hines laments that “we don’t actually need everybody.”
Perfectly fitting to the performance was when an emergency alert went off causing every phone in the theatre to deliver a spine-tingling siren which served to only enhance the comedic unease.
The performance is a real trip. And is cemented as such when Hines’ seemingly simulates taking a cannabis edible onstage after some serious struggle to open the child-proof packaging. She asks if there are any children in the audience to help her open it. She then assures the group that the edible is medicinal and that it is not likely to kick in until after the show.
Lending to Hines’ comedic sensibility is a moment mid-performance when a police siren can be heard from outside and Hines pauses intently to ensure that it’s not coming for her.
As Pochsy recalls the events of her 40-day cruise, she recollects an event where a child kicked her under a table and how she taught the child a lesson by kicking her in the back and then promptly delivering some worldly wisdom. Needless to say, the child did not learn the lesson that Pochsy had intended.
After an array of satirical songs and angsty anecdotes, the show closes with Hines draped in a burnt-sugar smelling haze and a golden neon glow that reminds the audience that the apocalypse may have in fact already happened.
While wildly funny and insightful, the show also acts as a subtle but scathing criticism of the damage of modern economic and religious systems.
Hines delivers an impressive 75 minutes of seamless dialogue with an inky black charm that is nothing short of riveting. With her perfect mix of dark comedy and societal criticism, it is easy to see why Pochsy has been a favourite of the Canadian indie-theatre circuit for over two decades.
Pochsy IV, Presented by Theatre Network
Playwright: Karen Hines
Director: Michael Kennard
Featuring: Karen Hines
Where: The Roxy Theatre, Nancy Power Theatre (10708 124 St.)
When: Through November 5
Tickets Starting at $22 from theatrenetwork.ca