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Alex Gullason, Neezar

The year is 2136. An embedded generation is getting off on downloading ‘feelies’ through their sensory implants and hardware. Enter one Ginger 5000, a souped-up, sexy redhead who’s employed as a medical service android at the hospital. Her diet consists of plutonium-239 once every decade. She’s adorable – and yes, technically a fembot – but she also has the capability to desire love.

Ian Rozylo, Alex Gullason
[Ian Rozylo, Alex Gullason]

The sleek, hardware-enhanced world of The Virtual Stage Theatre’s Broken Sex Doll (in a remount of 2012’s Cultch hit musical) is filled with people who’ve lost the ability to touch, hence the feelies. Each week, Billy Crumble (Ian Rozylo), host of This Week at The Feelies, picks the best uploaded feelie of the week.

Chelsea Rose Tucker, Benjamin Elliott
[Chelsea Rose Tucker, Benjamin Elliott]

Enter Darryl (Benjamin Elliott), who’s in need of a hardware upgrade at the hospital where Ginger (our heroine) works. Soon, he’s up and ready with some “interesting” enhancements that he later finds will lead him to both fame and trouble.

Neezar
[Neezar]

The King (of feelies), brilliantly performed by Neezar, learns of a popular sexual encounter feelie starring Darryl (but has no idea that it’s his ex, Ginger, who’s banging him) that’s gotten much attention through a feelie gone viral simply entitled “It’s Amazing”. Fans are going wild for the amazing ability to FEEL Darryl’s skin, his thoughts, and emotions while the act is going down.

Greg Armstrong-Morris, Neezar
[Greg Armstrong-Morris, Neezar]

King will later learn about Ginger (Chelsea Rose Tucker, who you’ll also fall in love with), and that’s when the real hilarity begins. He’s a Momma’s boy, and Mother (in a campy, comic portrayal by Greg Armstrong-Morris) devises a plan to ruin Ginger’s operating system by hacking in: Mom’s still got some goods left over from his son’s past with Ginger that will do the damage necessary to get Ginger to the recycling depot once and for all. Seriously following me so far? Broken Sex Doll is fantastically sung, acted, and presented on the York Theatre stage on two levels.

Chelsea Rose-Tucker
[Chelsea Rose Tucker]

While Chelsea Rose Tucker’s voice is sweet and melodic (“I’ll Be Yours“), Neezar’s King hits the heavy metal highs and lows. We enjoyed Benjamin Elliott’s portrayal of Darryl even more so than his vocals. The 10-person cast are tight, with several actors performing in extra roles.

While in one scene, international circus performer (including two Cirque du Soleil tours) Neezar towers over the stage in stilts, he ironically spends most of the play complaining about being height-challenged. “No tall chicks!” he screams to his assistant James (Joel Ballard, who clearly has fun with the role of man-servant).

Joel Ballard, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Neezar & Chelsea Rose Tucker
[Joel Ballard, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Neezar & Chelsea Rose Tucker]

Three additional androids (each bearing a unique personality) provide extra colour and laughs, from the recycling depot to super-heroines that save the hour: Alex Gullason, Adriana Simone Ravalli, and Ranae Miller.

The stage is simply set with a stark white wall, made effective via colourful costumes (Drew Facey) and lighting (Jeff Harrison, Lighting Designer/Technical Direction). Additional strong production nods to Sound Designer Brian Linds and Original Score by Anton Lipovetsky.

Standing, L to R: Adriana Simone Ravalli, Alex Gullason, Chelsea Rose Tucker, Ranae Miller; on ground, L to R: Neezar, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Joel Ballard
[Standing, L to R: Adriana Simone Ravalli, Alex Gullason, Chelsea Rose Tucker, Ranae Miller; on ground, L to R: Neezar, Greg Armstrong-Morris, Joel Ballard]

The two-act (including 20-minute intermission) performance could best be described as a cosmic opera with themes of love, longing, and revenge. And in Ginger’s case? Androids need love too.

Directed, written, and produced by Andy Thompson, Broken Sex Doll continues at the Cultch’s York Theatre through November 22.

Photos by Bettina Strauss.

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