Dr. Serenity Hawkfire -The Doctor is (clued) Out

Serenity Hawkfire nid 347

Have you ever broken up with someone nice and it was really awkward? This review, like that kind of breakup, is something I wish I didn’t have to do.

Like the clued-out person with whom you have no connection, I feel like I’m breaking up with someone unsuspecting and sweet, but who just doesn’t get it. In Dr. Serenity Hawkfire's Beyond Being Workshop, an ill-at-ease performer provides the audience with that tightened sphincter sensation you get when watching someone onstage you feel sorry for. Perhaps she does this on purpose, as she is a self-proclaimed “licensed colon cleaner and fecologist, and the world’s leading expert on maple enemas.” All the uncomfortable tension she creates could be a plot to put you in a position where you will later require one of her famous procedures to reverse the effects of her live show.

Even the blurb in the program was clumsily conceived, providing too much information, too soon. We know what’s going to happen right off the bat - it tells us that the “workshop” is going to go to hell. Calling itself “a perfect parody” filled with “outlandish moments of New-Age hilarity,” Serenity Hawkfire, “a narcissistic New Age guru with an ego the size of Chicago” promises a workshop with “very interactive theater that freely mixes scripted material with improv”… does anyone remember William Hung from American Idol? While this confident description of the show promises great things, it misses the mark as painfully as a bad cheerleading toss. There was nothing free about the mixing of a canned script steeped in stale, poorly delivered jokes with nervous made up interactive bits that just plain fall flat. The size of the audience is not to blame; a packed house could not have resuscitated this deceased humour.  

Suzanne Falter-Barns, the performer, is actually a self-help author and workshop leader who is parodying herself. Why? She was “tired of being serious and helpful all the time” (so she decided to be the opposite of helpful and put on this show).  She has said of the piece, “I really see it as a total party that parades itself around as a workshop. People who come say it’s fun.” I would like a list of these people along with proof that they have a pulse. She goes on to say of her experience performing it, “I know I’m having a grand old time.” It’s good to know someone did. But perhaps this is her inner sadist speaking as the fun seemed to be at our expense; at one particularly pointless point she makes the women stand clutching their breasts and the men grab their crotches. All the while she encourages us to sway and sing along as she wails with her guitar. She wails out a number of songs actually, not the least of which was the aptly titled, “You’ll Be Better When You’re Dead” (or just out of the theatre).

While it was one of the clumsier shows I’ve seen, there is redeeming value in the concept behind it and the sheer absurdity of some of the gags. See for yourself on her extensive web site: http://serenityhawkfire.com/ and keep your eyes peeled for a picture of the double-sided plunger she used to connect her head to yours, channeling psychic power. Check out the “latest headlines” section for some outrageous clips that are actually, genuinely funny. It’s almost tragic that with so many original ideas to playfully poke fun at the self-help generation, that Dr. Serenity Hawkfire couldn’t help herself.

Written by: Suzanne Falter-Barns; Directed by: Derrick Hopkins Jennifer; Script consultant: Libby Macdonald; Performed by: Suzanne Falter-Barns http://serenityhawkfire.com/

For show information and to submit your own review on this show, please go here.

By Ingrid Nilson