Yoga Play: steady that pose

The Gateway Theatre is presenting Dipika Guha's Yoga Play.

Christine Quintana and Chirag Naik in Yoga Play (Photo: Gateway Theatre)

 

If only it had a middle. Yoga Play has an enticing beginning and a meaningful conclusion. But, in between, it gets lost in low-stakes plotting.

In Yoga Play, American writer Dipika Guha takes aim at the commercialization of an ancient ascetic practice. Think Lululemon, that’s what Guha does: she invents a Lululemon-like company called Jojomon and, right off the top, she tosses in a reference to Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who tried to say that some of his company’s yoga pants became transparent only because the thighs of the women wearing them were too big.

The large and small details of Guha’s writing are effervescent in their inventiveness. A guy named John, who owns Jojomon, calls his dog Sappho. And Jojomon has just come out with a new fabric that features the slow release of organic lavender—and was inspired by Marie Kondo. [Read more…]

Much Ado About Nothing: It’s about more than this

Classic Chic Productions is presenting Much Ado About Nothing at The Cultch

Benedick (Corina Akeson) kneels in front of his love Beatrice (Christina Wells Campbell)

A director needs to create a coherent world for a production. That’s their primary job. But Rebecca Patterson’s take on Much Ado About Nothing is all over the place.

Much Ado is an interesting choice for Classic Chic Productions, which mounts all-female shows. The most compelling interpretations of Much Adothat I’ve seen have emphasized the gender divisions in the play. Men are soldiers and women are chattel. Both positions are dangerous and both depend on the public perception of honour, which is a fragile commodity. Within this context, the banter between Beatrice and Benedick, the central lovers, can be seen as a form of self-defence. [Read more…]

True Crime: whydoit whodunnit

The Arts Club and Crow's Theatre are presenting True Crime at the BMO Stage.

True Crime looks cool. (Photo of Torquil Campbell by Dahlia Katz. Design by Remington North)

 

 

The animating argument of True Crime is that audience members are complicit in a moral transgression. I don’t buy it. So, philosophically, the show is boring to me. But True Crime does deliver beautifully worked surfaces.

Torquil Campbell, who performs the solo text, created it with director Chris Abraham in collaboration with composer Julian Brown. It centers on Campbell’s fascination with Christian Gerhartsreiter, a con man and impostor who was convicted of both kidnapping and murder and is now incarcerated in Ironwood State Prison. [Read more…]

Lawsuit Decision: $0.00

Colin Thomas sued The Georgia Straight newspaper for wrongful dismissal.
On Thursday, January 31, Judge Winston Lee released his decision regarding the lawsuit I filed in small claims court against The Georgia Straight.

Judge Lee ruled that, in his view, I was not a dependent contractor at The Straight—which means that I was not in an employee-like relationship with the paper—and that I am, therefor, not entitled to compensation for The Straight having terminated its 28.5-year relationship with me as a theatre critic, which they did without notice in September of 2016.   [Read more…]

Cabaret: so many spectacular elements

Paige Fraser is playing the Emcee in Studio 58's production of Cabaret.

(Photo of Paige Fraser by David Cooper)

Although it doesn’t have enough emotional depth, this Cabaret is dazzling in many ways.

Cabaret is about Clifford Bradshaw, a young American novelist who arrives in Berlin on New Year’s Eve, 1931. Although he’s had sex with men and is conflicted about his orientation, he quickly falls into an affair with Sally Bowles, a British singer who works at the Kit Kat Club. Unlike the 1972 movie, the stage musical also contains a subplot about a romance between Cliff’s landlady Fraülein Schneider and a Jewish tenant named Schultz.

In his directorial debut, Josh Epstein gleefully stuffs Studio 58 with so much action and imagery—with so many theatrical ideas—it’s like he’s fisting the place (and the place is digging it.) Ten minutes before the show had even started, I was already getting goosebumps of delight. The boys and girls of the Kit Kat Club were parading around in the sexy, gender-screwing costumes provided by Amy McDougall. (I really want a pair of those rhinestoned short shorts.) And I love the little pre-show shows that Epstein has thrown in: a striptease performed by a voluptuous nurse, and a boxing match between a couple of flexing young studs. [Read more…]

The Matchmaker: when it all lines up, it’s fantastic

In The Matchmaker, Nicola Lipman’s wig sets the tone for the evening. (Photo of Lipman and Ric Reid by David Cooper)

I went from thinking, “This is going to be a very long night,” to laughing uncontrollably. That is an excellent trajectory. [Read more…]

A Prayer For Owen Meany: divine exasperation

Guest review by David Johnston

Ensemble Theatre Company is presenting A Prayer for Owen Meany at Pacific Theatre.

Chris Lam and Tariq Leslie work hard but drop the ball in A Prayer for Owen Meany. (Photo by Zemekiss Photography)

It was a bad sign when, after sitting through A Prayer For Owen Meany‘s fourteen-hour runtime, my first reaction was “What was that thing about?” (The program says the runtime is 135 minutes, but just as knowing Owen Meany made protagonist John Wheelwright believe in God, watching Owen Meany made me no longer believe in clocks.) [Read more…]

salt.: how history fits on contemporary bodies

DICK-DAVENPORTWriter/performer Selina Thompson slams it in salt. (Photo by Dick Davenport)

At the beginning of her autobiographical solo show salt., Selina Thompson says, “I’m 28. I’m black. I’m a woman.” I’m 66, white, and a man and those realities will have a huge impact on how I interpret Thompson’s work.*

The realities of everyday racism still shock me, for instance. Near the top of salt., Thompson relates a story about her grandmother, who was told as a little girl—by her schoolteacher—that black people have darker skin because they are lazy and dirty in God’s eyes. Decades later, a little boy in a Bristol café points Thompson out as a nigger and, although she was born in Birmingham and lives in England, she still fields endless questions about where she is “really” from.

The concreteness of this material made it some of the most affecting in the script for me.

Then, in a way, Thompson sets out to experience where she is “really” from. The body of salt. is about a journey that she took in 2013: to explore the history of slavery and its impact on her life, she traveled by cargo ship from Belgium to Ghana, then on to Jamaica and back to the UK. [Read more…]

Prince Hamlet: the play’s the thing—sometimes

Bronwen-SharpDawn Jani Birley makes a compelling Horatio in Prince Hamlet. (Photo by Bronwen Sharp)

This Hamlet is like a priceless fabric with a lot of holes in it.

Director Ravi Jain has conceived and cast this production with refreshing inclusivity: the players are racially diverse, seven out of nine performers are women, there are multiple gender reversals in the casting, and the production is bilingual: Dawn Jani Birley, who is deaf, plays Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, and the story unfolds in both English and American Sign Language.

In many instances, the results are revelatory. Christine Horne’s Prince is the most original, the most mentally unstable, and by far the wittiest Hamlet I’ve seen. Jain and Horne establish the edge of craziness early: near the top of the show, when Hamlet sees his father’s ghost on the ramparts, Hamlet speaks the ghost’s lines, possessed by a kind of ecstasy. (I’m using male pronouns because the characters maintain their original gender identities.) [Read more…]

The Open House: six degrees of obscuration

Open House-5204

Less than halfway through this evening, I wrote in my notebook, “I don’t want to spend any more time with them.” Mostly, I was talking about the characters; there are strengths—as well as significant weaknesses—in the production.

In The Open House, which runs an unbroken 90 minutes, adult Son and Daughter have come home to celebrate Mother and Father’s wedding anniversary. The evening starts with an extended passage in which these four—and Uncle—abuse each other and ignore one another’s cries for help.

Having suffered strokes and heart attacks, Father uses a wheelchair—and he’s a flaming asshole. When Uncle makes a comment about the kids’ affection for pets, Father spits, “How many times do I have to ask you never to think about this family?” Father relentlessly insults and belittles Mother, making it clear that she is a third-choice wife who has become an idiotic inconvenience. And, when Son tries to open up to Father, Father says, “Work this into your sleep” and mimes shooting him. [Read more…]

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!