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Velvet Wells. Photo by Curtis Perry.

Fringe Review: (Re)Tired Magical Black Man

By Ryan Pepper on June 22, 2022

(Re)Tired Magical Black Man
Created by Velvet Wells
Produced by Velvet Duke Productions (Ottawa)
45m | PG | Puppet, Comedy
Content warnings: Audience Participation, Violence

A puppet sing-along is objectively wonderful. And if you think you’re too cool for a puppet show, you’re actually uncool.

Velvet Wells is an Ottawa-based entertainer, in the truest sense of the term. Over the course of (Re)Tired Magical Black Man, Velvet plays dJerald the Djinn, whose wish-granting abilities set the action for the show; four puppets; a couple of inanimate talking objects; and they sing as well.

Velvet’s show builds off a simple premise: capitalism, like usual, is causing some problems, and a ragtag team of Black puppets, two monsters, and dJerald the Djinn must save the world from total chaos—inadvertently caused by dJerald’s wish-giving, in a bid to save his company, wish (dot) com. Accompanied by Asase and Chawn the monster, the band takes on the “Oli-Clark” and his company.

Velvet’s show is centered around joy, particularly Black joy, reparations, and community care. In fact, community care is the tagline for a lovely bit of sing-along. The sheer joy on stage counteracts any times the show comes across as heavy-handed (and besides, I don’t think Velvet was trying to be obtuse). This might be a show that hits you over the head with its theme, but hey, Velvet does it with puppets—it’s a joy to be seeing this much joy.

And if audience participation is turning you off, don’t worry, you won’t be asked to get up on stage—it’s just some singing along and shouting out ideas to propel the play forward (and you’ll get to see Velvet’s impressive improv skills).

(Re)Tired Magical Black Man is Fringe at its best; not because it’s flawlessly executed, but because the show is such a joy to watch and participate in. I’ve never seen a puppet play about Black joy at the GCTC or NAC, but at Ottawa Fringe, it’s a must-see.

And if you do see it, make sure to tell your friends and family about Velvet’s amazing backflips.


(Re)Tired Magical Black Man by Velvet Wells is playing at Studio 1201 (60 Waller Street) until June 25, 2022. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at https://apt613.ca/category/festival/fringe/.