Rogue Performer Preview: Roll Up, Roll Up for Magical Mystery Detour!

Feb 21, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Theatre

by Madelaine Ocean

The Rogue Festival will be upon us soon! Enjoy another Rogue Festival performer preview article, with more to come between now and the Festival and more that have already been published this month in our A & E section. We also have an article about this year’s Rogue Festival Muse, and once Rogue begins, watch for reviews and video interviews. For more information on the Festival itself check out their website and keep an eye on KRL’s Rogue Festival Event Page.

20 TIME BEST-OF-FEST AWARD WINNER, Gemma Wilcox (from London, UK), returns for her 9th Rogue Festival with her one-woman, multi-character Rogue 2013 hit show, exploring the unexpected twists and turns of life, love, and being on the road…

“Totally zen…completely entrancing” – Fresno Bee (2013)
In Magical Mystery Detour, Wilcox plays 23+ characters (Human, Furry, Feathered, Mythical, and Steel!). It is a humorous, moving, and highly original piece of physical theatre. The story follows protagonist, Sandra, who many of the Rogue Festival audiences will recognize from Wilcox’s previous Rogue shows, The Honeymoon Period Is Officially (2009, 2014) and Shadows in Bloom (2010, 2015). Although Magical Mystery Detour is technically part 3 of the “Sandra trilogy,” it is also a stand-alone play for those who have never seen any of the previous installments.


Gemma Wilcox

Magical Mystery Detour is set in the UK, in the summer of 2012. Sandra, and her sweetly loyal dog, Solar, take an unexpected car journey from London to Land’s End, Cornwall, at a pivotal and sensitive time in her life. The audience travel with Sandra from the UK’s capital and along sacred English countryside terrain, as she encounters magical, mysterious, archetypal, and everyday characters and scenarios on the way. We journey with her as she struggles with, confronts, and accepts the unplanned detours of life, love, and on the road (that she *thought* she was on)…


In a recent interview Wilcox shared a bit about her creation process:
“In Magical Mystery Detour I make use of the character of Sandra to explore a theme in my life that has been very potent over the past few years, which is about the mysterious unfolding of my life story and how it does not always go the way I think, I want, or expect it to. And how the struggle against the reality of what is happening – or attempting to control, cling-on to, or steer certain situations or people – can cause pain, frustration and suffering.

In this play I specifically employ and explore the metaphor of the road trip, which Sandra expects and assumes will go from A to B in a reasonable and logical timeline. However, what happens instead are unexpected and sometimes magical “detours,” delays, and characters that crop up along the way, as so often happens in our journey through life and love.


When I wrote this show in 2012, I was unearthing and confronting the parts of myself that had certain “hidden” agendas, pictures, and stories of how my life and relationships should look and unfold, and although there is nothing innately wrong with those visions, dreams or desires, I believe there is actually a much bigger Mystery at play in my life. This “Mystery” that is the unfoldment of my life is impossible to fathom or grasp with my mind, and it certainly does not look or unfold like I think it will or should the majority of the time! So I use Sandra as a vehicle – as well as her talking car 😉 – to explore both the old and challenging, as well as the new and maybe more allowing and accepting, ways of dealing with these apparent obstacles and detours that appear in life and love.

When I created this show, I was also exploring in my own life that pain and heartache is prolonged through my resistance and struggle to things that happen in my life (such as an unexpected end of a relationship or a death of a loved one), and there is actually a magical, mysterious, and crazy perfection to this whole journey that can be extremely rich, powerful, transformational, and even joyful and fun, the more I truly allow and surrender to the ride… It was both a very tender and also very empowering way to create work!


My amazing director, Elizabeth Baron, is a huge source of support in many moments when I wonder if I am being too transparent or vulnerable in my work, which is so close to home in it’s semi-autobiographical material. She was incredible working with me on how to stay both open and vulnerable as a performer AND also staying healthily protected and safe whilst showing the many shades and subtleties of a character. We both love to work on finding ways to transform and transmute personal material into theatrical works that will deeply move and touch audiences on a universal and mythical level.

I draw on many themes that are personal and intimate to me, but I also add layers to my work that are highly fictional, which helps me to perform the raw material. I believe Elizabeth and I work particularly well together (this is our fifth show we have worked on together) because we agree that the most vibrant, exciting, and authentic material comes from diving deeply into personal experiences to find juicy creative material that is very human and real. We then work carefully on shaping it and staging it in ways that is universally recognizable and that has enough space and universality, so that the audience can relate and ‘transpose’ their own life story and feelings onto the scenes and characters.

There were many times in the creation of this show and rehearsals where Elizabeth would encourage me to lean more courageously into certain scenes and then back off from the rawness in other moments. I really trusted her to identify what was best for me and for the play, and I am deeply grateful to be able to work with someone with such skill and sensitivity.

I write comedy-dramas. I find that it is highly important to balance the “light” material with the “darker” material; humor and also sober and serious moment (and often a complex mix!) – for me as a performer, and also for the audiences. It is easier to receive and digest more poignant or shadowy material when juxtaposed in appropriate moments with humor and lightness. Humor is a huge aspect of my work – humor that comes from identifiable, real, and sometimes embarrassing situations or honest admissions.

I am honored and super excited to be returning to Rogue Festival for the ninth time! It’s one of my favorite festivals, and I cannot wait to connect with both old and new friends!

I am also thrilled to announce that I will be offering an exciting creativity workshop for women this year! Times and location to be announced SOON…see or my facebook page for updates!”


California Arts Academy
1401 N Wishon Ave ·
Fresno, CA 93728

Saturday, March 3 2018 8:00 PM — 9:00 PM
Sunday, March 4 2018 6:30 PM — 7:30 PM
Wednesday, March 7 2018 7:00 PM — 8:00 PM
Thursday, March 8 2018 8:30 PM — 9:30 PM
Saturday, March 10 2018 5:00 PM — 6:00 PM

Tickets can be purchased on the Rogue Festival website.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



powered by TinyLetter