TACTICS closes its first season of collective theatre at Arts Court with Under Derek’s Bed, an imaginative adventure through a childhood land of fantasy to overthrow a new overlord, presented by Dead Unicorn Ink, a company known for it’s crowd-pleasing productions.
Should you see it?
Derek lives in the rut of his desk jockey life. That going through the motions breed of unhappy and unwillingness to examine why that plagues so many of our generation. His life is turned end over end after his wife is killed in a car crash, followed quickly by the re-emergence his best monster-friend Earl with dire news that the land of all their childhood adventures (accessed via portal then under Derek’s bed, now in his file cabinet) has fallen into chaos and despair under the lead of a new ruler.
Derek is thus recruited (reluctantly—he’s a grown up now) to set things right – only after learning the ghost of his wife is being held hostage – and undergoes his process of healing and self-discovery.
Under Derek’s Bed is a Dead Unicorn Ink production following in the tradition of their wildly acclaimed crowd pleasers: Playing Dead, Space Mystery from Outer Space, and Chesterfield in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival’s respectively.
Here in their first full length show, DUI fulfills its tradition of exceptional production values through the Satyr-like make-up on Nick Fournier’s Earl the Monster, the troll puppet destined for a life of misfortune, an army of crazed dust bunnies and so much more that all need to be seen to be appreciated.
The show is highly entertaining as realized by the wonderful comic acting of Mike Kosowon as Derek, Robin Hodge as a twisted version of the manic pixie dreamgirl trope, and Nick Fournier as Earl the Monster – all travelling through the perils of the land under Derek’s bed on their way to face off against its new overlord.
Where Under Derek’s Bed stalls a little bit is the attempt to add some depth to the fantastical adventure. Perhaps because the direction wasn’t fully committed to this part of the story, or perhaps because Mike Kosowon’s dramatic acting abilities aren’t as well honed as his comic ones, or perhaps because of some rough spots in the script – being shown Derek hitting on the cute bike messenger he’s arguably having an affair with in the opening scene is not going to elicit sympathy when his never-seen wife is killed in the next scene. Regardless of the reason, Derek’s guilt and grief at the recent loss of his wife (one half of his internal struggle) never felt real or interesting.
That said, Dead Unicorn Ink is an entertainment-first company and Under Derek’s Bed is no exception, with a bar on hand and many nights featuring after parties. If you’ve never seen a DUI show, here’s what you can expect:
Highly creative, boundary pushing, spare no expense production values paired with whimsical, fantastical, totally over the top characters and situations that result in campy B-movie styled fun. And usually puppets. Here, throw your Little Monsters and your Neverending Story and your Labyrinth into a blender and you get Under Derek’s Bed – all in all, a fun night out.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did Under Derek’s Bed hit all the right childhood fantasy funny bones? Did you feel Derek’s pain and loss? Join the discussion and tell me what you thought in the comments below.
Under Derek’s Bed runs now through April 25th. More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/319200411623600/