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Fringe Review: Ultraviolet Life

By Kate Carmanico on June 20, 2018

Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Fringe Festival

Ultraviolet Life
by Production Mirage

45 min / Storytelling, Burlesque, Play / Mature

Ultraviolet Life combines gesture-based theatre, music and burlesque to explore a young woman’s relationship with her mind and body in the face of illness.

Production Mirage’s concept for this piece is an intriguing one and shows a lot of potential. The physical body (played by an actor) finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between her owner and their partner. A trio of masked dance artists performs a haunting choreography surrounding illness and its invasive qualities. Death is a burlesque dancer delivering an enticing strip tease.

According to director Maria-Hélèna Pacelli, the integration of burlesque occurred partway through the exploration process, the vulnerable aspect of burlesque pairing well with illness and how we choose to hide or reveal it. The symbolism reads effectively from an audience standpoint, particularly the idea of flirting and being seduced by death.

In terms of consistency, the show has its ups and downs—the actors are visibly more engaged when using gesture to express themselves and seem to lose momentum in the scenes without set choreography. The strength of this piece lies in its physical language.

Though the story stems from personal experience, the abstract and often nonverbal delivery universalizes its messages. I would be curious to see the entire story being told without words.

While Ultraviolet Life is still a work in progress, its unique incorporation of burlesque makes it memorable. I commend this team for their bold confidence and for bringing to light an important conversation.


Ultraviolet Life is playing at Academic Hall (133 Séraphin-Marion) until Saturday June 23, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.


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