rEvolver Festival: Vampires in Barcelona


Brian Cochrane
Credit: Christine Quintana

At the Green House Studio June 1, 2 and 3, 2017
Tickets from $15 (low income) at 604-251-1363/

Posted May 31, 2017

Go Green. The Green House Studio, I mean, for the most wryly funny, most charming solo show that I’ve seen thus far in Upintheair Theatre’s 2017 rEvolver Festival. (The Green House Studio is in the green house right next door to The Cultch. Pick your tickets up at The Cultch box office and proceed next door and around the back to the lane entrance.)

If you ever travelled abroad by yourself in your early 20s, writer/performer Brian Cochrane will take you back – via his own travels – to your bumbling in foreign languages, meeting very strange roommates in very strange hostels, surviving on 50 euros/day and everything that goes along with that first international adventure which most of us, mercifully and somewhat surprisingly, survived.

In 2006, age 22 and a recent grad of the U. of Saskatchewan (Acting), Brian Cochrane sallied forth, first to visit his girlfriend who was studying in France and eventually on to Barcelona. He figured two years of highschool Spanish would get him through any and all predicaments in Spain. Wrong. Mystified by Cochrane’s attempts at Spanish, Barcelona’s Catalans would sometimes switch to French. That didn’t work, either.

It probably didn’t help that – as we saw on projected photographs – Cochrane looked about thirteen at the time, barely pubescent. He tried to look cool, as if he wasn’t a tourist although the big backpack and his much-thumbed copy of Let’s Go Western Europe were dead giveaways. But he drank beer, smoked cigarettes and other substances and was attracted to women that he describes as “pale and oddly sexy.” It’s an endearing refrain throughout the show.

A rambling commentary, it’s told in such a self-effacing, self-reflective, wry manner that it’s completely charming.

Brian Cochrane
Credit: Christine Quintana

There’s the requisite WC misadventure – we’ve all had them. The weirdoes sharing an overnight compartment on the train. The scary but exhilarating feeling of being alone for the very first time in his life.

Vampires? Oh, the morose Hungarian magician who shared the hostel’s rooftop patio – “a cool Bohemian hangout” – describes the girlfriend, who had recently left him after eleven years for his best friend, as a vampire. “She’s a vampire”, says the magician. “Metaphorically?” says our boy Brian, not wishing to offend, especially since he knows the Hungarian magician has a gun in his room. “No, she’s a vampire”. Ah. Okay.

And then there’s the Vampire Bar to which the magician sends our boy Brian and where he was attracted to yet another “pale and oddly sexy” woman.

Cochrane tells the story in the first person but switches to “Brian” and “he” throughout. It’s as if he’s telling his story from some distance – that distance being nine years.

A Skinny Walrus Project directed by Jamie King, Vampires in Barcelona is very funny, offbeat – and I hesitate to call it sweet – but it’s sweet. The way he was. The way we were. Innocents abroad in the big wide world.

Je me souviens. Don’t ask me how to say it in Spanish. Or Catalan which, apparently, is a completely different language. Maybe Cochrane missed that in his copy of Let’s Go Western Europe.