Totem Figures – Fringe favourite returns

TJ Dawe on a voyage of discovery at a fringe festival near you

"We reveal ourselves with every preference," writer and performer TJ Dawe repeated several times within his latest Fringe show Totem Figures.  In this one-man show, Dawe, in rapid-fire monologue fashion, revealed himself by sharing his mythologies, heroes and preferences, and a whole lot more.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for some of the same preferences as Dawe (Charles Bukowski, The Hobbit, and the concept of adventure, for example) but that isn't why I like the man.  Dawe, a perennial Fringe performer, knows how to entertain.  The man can talk. The man can make an audience laugh.

I've seen Dawe perform twice before, both times at previous Vancouver Fringe festivals.  The scripts were imaginative and witty, the delivery immaculate.  I couldn't wait to see his other work - to see how he would develop, where he would go next.

In Totem Figures, Dawe talked about the themes and figures in his life, and his "growing up" both personally and on the Fringe circuit. This show is unabashedly self-indulgent – a 90-minute autobiography – and Dawe was comfortable enough to admit that.  The entire thing was a strong performance and I would have no hesitation in recommending it. However, it wasn't what I was hoping for.  I like the idea of someone developing, or growing up, as an artist, but Totem Figures did not show that advancement for TJ Dawe.  If I looked at this show in relation to what I've seen of him before, the progression was just not there.  It was less humourous than usual, and not quite as profound as it was intended to be.  The goal seemed to be to make us think about our own personal mythologies, but his words fell short of being inspirational or revelatory.  Perhaps Dawe, who himself admitted that he doesn't know where he is going, what he is doing next, or how it is going to end, still has a little more growing up to do.

Totem Figures was produced by Big Sandwich Productions, Vancouver BC.  Written and performed by TJ Dawe.

For more information and public forum on this show go here.

By Ashleigh Dalton