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Fringe Review: GET LOST jem rolls

By Brian Carroll on June 20, 2016

59 minutes | Storytelling, Comedy, Solo, Performance Poetry | PG

“The human race, don’t you just love it? Yes, I do! It’s the only possible way to cope with it.” Jem Rolls returns to this theme throughout GET LOST.

GET LOST is different from Rolls’s other shows. In fact, every performance of GET LOST will be different. Five minutes before the show starts, Rolls comes out and asks an audience member to shuffle 16 cue cards. These cards determine the order of 80 per cent of the show. So opening night was just one of almost 21 billion shows that you could see.

Jem Rolls spends five months a year living out of a bag during the Fringe circuit. The other seven months he travels the world, living out of the same bag. He minimizes his possessions. “I become 20-kilogram man.” Not his weight, it’s the weight of his bag.

Like his sellout show The Inventor of All Things (TIOAT), GET LOST is a story — a story of his trips around the world, particularly to countries like Thailand, Croatia, Brazil and Malaysia where he doesn’t speak the languages. He travels through so many linguistic regions that often, “I don’t know which language it is that I don’t know.”

Unlike TIOAT, while some episodes are expository, some are performance poems. You never know what’s coming next: the prosaic or the poetic.

Storytellers will ask, “Where’s the arc? The beginning, middle and end?” Rolls begins with a short exposition of how he travels, how the show is randomized, and how he “learned not to plan”. Rolls also hands four cue cards to audience members, to be retrieved at fixed times in the show. One of these signals the ending episode.

Rolls says, “half of my best experiences have been mistakes.” So he visits countries without a plan. He arrives in a country and figures it out from there.

What surprises greet Rolls in his unplanned travels?

  • In Eastern Europe, land of The Holocaust, he happens on a Klezmer band playing “I Will Survive”.
  • In Croatia, he stumbles upon a 3000-year-old Sphinx.
  • He discovers a town where beer is ¢20 a glass and decides to stay a week.

I’ve seen veteran Fringers expound the virtue of Fringe as a place to take chances, and then plan a schedule around their old favourites.

GET LOST will be a different show every night. Are you up to the challenge?

GET LOST jem rolls is playing in Studio Léonard-Beaulne on Monday, June 20 at 7:00pm; Tuesday, June 21 at 6:00pm; Thursday, June 23 at 9:30pm; Saturday, June 25 at 1:30pm; Sunday, June 26 at 8:00pm.

Tickets are $12.