Jill Vice’s newest one-woman show, A Fatal Step, is an entertaining night out. Vice’s funny characterizations are wonderfully silly and reminiscent of 1940s film noir. Unfortunately the script and timing of the show don’t match that level of refinement. The show could be a great. It just slightly misses the mark.
Jill Vice’s performance is excellent, however the show just doesn’t work as a whole. Let me explain. The press release describes the A Fatal Step as “a dramedy” that “tells its shadowy tale not from the typical point of view of the hardboiled detective, but from that of the femme fatale.” While not inaccurate, this explanation of the show is misleading. The show is set in modern-day San Francisco but still indulges in the stereotypes and unhealthy male-female interactions common in film noir. It creates a few comedic moments, but for the most part it just feels dissonant.
The script, written by Vice, doesn’t entirely lend itself to a one-person performance. Vice spends a lot of the show quickly switching between characters. While Vice does a very good changing physically and vocally for each character, the changes are too quick and too numerous. The audience spends a lot of mental energy tracking who is talking at any given moment and as a result, many of the funniest moments don’t land as well as they could.
These problems could potentially be solved if the same show were to be performed by two or three actors. At their best, one-person shows usually follow one main character, focusing on their thoughts and feelings with other characters coming in and out of the narrative as necessary. A Fatal Step, struggles in this regard because there are three characters that are crucial to the story being told on stage. While Vice does portray each character well, the constant switching between the three bogs down the flow of the story. Bringing in another actor or two might smooth out these interactions and ultimately make the show more enjoyable for the audience. This of course, wouldn’t showcase Vice’s talent to the same extent, but might make for a better overall show.
The show is all right. It has the potential to be a really good and interesting show. It isn’t there yet, but it is still a fun night out, if not a particularly memorable one.
Jill Vice’s solo show, A Fatal Step, is playing now through March 3, 2018 at The Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Tickets range from $20-$35 with prices up to $100 for reserved seats.
Photos courtesy of John Orvis and Jill Vice