Review: SOUL SAMURAI at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival

Jeff Hoffman

There is a warning before Soul Samurai that it contains Sexuality, Violence and Strong Language. But for Soul Samurai, this isn't a warning. It is a promise, and it delivers on all the above in glorious excess. The result is a deliciously fun theatre experience that you should not miss.

This is easily one of the most ambitious Fringe shows I've seen, and in more ways than one. The time, money, effort and love put into this show is obvious from the start. Staged scenes are interspersed with projected film sequences and peppered generously with a heaping helping of stage combat. The production mixes the tropes of several genres, including revenge drama, queer romance, and post apocalyptic survival to create something magnificently unique. The show I attended was completely sold out, and with good reason.

The main attraction, as with any Samurai story, is the fighting. Swords, fists, tumbles, flips, kicks, fans, and nunchucks; the choreography is ambitiously creative, the execution is tautly rehearsed, and the performers are athletes as much as they are actors.

Soul Samurai juggles a couple more plots and back stories than are perhaps necessary, and the non-linear scene structure sometimes detracts from the overall narrative focus. Nonetheless, the story provides the laughs and tears as the actors bring their A game. Our hero Dewdrop's primarily crazy-eyed, on-the-edge depiction is nuanced by moments of heartbreak and vulnerability. Cert brings plenty of laughs as her sidekick and Sally December is compelling as her tragically fated lover.

Final verdict: Soul Samurai is a solid Fringe pick. Be sure to add it to your list (if you can get a ticket!)

Here are the details 

Katanas. Revenge. True Love. What are you waiting for?

Queer romance, slick hip hop, and the finest stage combat this side of Brooklyn crash the Fringe with SOUL SAMURAI by Qui Nguyen

This production is part of the fringe festival's Dramatic Works Series which showcases Asian playrights.

Affair of Honor presents the tale of Dewdrop, a young samurai in post-apocalyptic Manhattan. She’s on a mission to avenge the death of her girlfriend Sally at the hands of the Long Tooth gang… but she’ll have to battle burnouts, shoguns, flashbacks, and her wise-ass B-boy sidekick just to make it across the Brooklyn Bridge. 

In this darkly awesome future, Shoguns reign, vampires infest Brooklyn, and the world has gone grindhouse. After losing her lover to some undead hoodlums, Dewdrop gets herself a training montage and a sidekick and sets off for revenge. Soul Samurai—a graphic novel explodes onstage: multimedia action topped with zine-like homemade sweetness.

Funny / Intense / LGBTQ+ / 100 minutes / 14+ / Coarse Language / Sexual Content / Violent Content / Gunshots / Smoke Fog

Underrepresented artist: Affair of Honor produces productions that are vehicles to represent Multicultural Artists.

Featuring: Nathania Louise Bernabe, Jackie.T. Hanlin, Lou Ticzon, Jordan Svenkeson, Eryka Alanna, and Jarelle De'Von Hepburn.

Film by Nach Dudsdeemaytha

Cameos by: Albert Nicholas, Lee Shorten, Rene Rebora and Damon Bradley Jang


FRIDAY SEPT 15 - 7:00 PM

SUNDAY SEPT 17 - 5:35 PM


Vancity Culture Lab @ The Cultch

1895 Venables Street (Victoria at Venables)