Transform Cabaret Festival Opening Night Bash: Revolutionary. Joy.

#UrbanInk, #TheCultch, #TransformCabaretFestival

Drag artist Le Gateau Chocolat sent a performance from London Thursday night.

Last night’s Opening Night Bash at the Transform Cabaret Festival was … transformative for me. Moreso than last year’s.

I don’t think that’s because this year’s edition was artistically “better”, whatever that means; I think it’s because the overwhelming awfulness of our global crises allowed me to appreciate more fully the power of celebration as resistance. [Read more…]

Incidental Moments of the Day: extraordinary ordinariness


In Incidental Moments of the Day, members of the Apple family convene on Soon.

Members of the Apple family enjoy an online dance performance.





Incidental Moments of the Day is complex, engaging, and so potentially inflammatory that I want to warn you before you watch it.

Between 2010 and 2013, playwright Richard Nelson wrote four plays about the Apple family of Rhinebeck, New York. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has written three more scripts in which family members convene on Zoom. The plays in this trilogy are all subtle and moving.

In Incidental Moments of the Day, the Apple family, which, like my family, is white, talks about race. Barbara, a retired high-school English teacher, brings up a conversation in which her friend Margaret asked, “I don’t think just being white makes me a racist. What do you think?”

Barbara understands that for her, as a white liberal, publicly challenging anything about Black Lives Matter, is not allowed. But she wants the right to at least whisper questions. Her oblique answer to Margaret comes later when she quotes from a play: “For God’s sake, don’t take that away, our last means of existing, allow us to say, ‘It’s hard for us to live.’ Even like this, in a whisper: ‘It’s hard for us to live.’”

So Incidental Moments of the Day is elegiac. Like The Cherry Orchard, it’s about the twilight of a shaken and confused aristocracy.

But, unlike in The Cherry Orchard, the only people we see in Incidental Moments of the Day are “aristocrats.”

When Barbara’s lawyer brother Richard cites an incident in which a Canadian theatre company faced outrage for telling an Indigenous story without employing Indigenous actors — hello Robert Lepage! —  he trots out the notion that “Cultures are not the property of anyone.” Richard’s brother-in-law Tim challenges him — kind of — by quoting James Baldwin. But Tim’s ultimate point is that political reality is more complex than the young realize. So Tim’s a liberal, too.

The script’s refusal to present anything other than this monochromatic perspective results in a disappointingly narrow vision.

Still, I don’t want to dismiss either this script or this production. Playwright Nelson does tell us that Richard’s going blind, after all. And the sense of loss and aimlessness the characters are experiencing resonates not just in their confusion about race, but in their larger sense of sorrow in the face of Covid and political dread.

Jane, Tim’s partner, has only recently been able to admit that she’s depressed and that her days feel circular. Richard has been keeping his sister Barbara company during the quarantine but now he’s bought his own house, and his new girlfriend Yvonne is probably moving in. Barbara’s anxiety squeezes out in snarky little comments.

No matter where you look, you’re not going to find writing and performances that are more seductively naturalistic. Maryann Plunkett’s Barbara is spectacularly seamless. Just wait till you hear her telling one of Yvonne’s jokes — badly: it’s a master class in authenticity. A wonderful listener, Stephen Kunken also stands out as Tim.

Nelson’s plays are among the best the new digital age has produced. That doesn’t mean this one’s easy. If you’re going to watch it, brace yourself.

Incidental Moments of the Day is available on YouTube — free or by donation — until November 5.

Art Heist: nobody knows whodunnit

Art Heist, Vancouver Fringe Festival, TJ Dawe, Ming Hudson

In Art Heist, the art is missing and so is the resolution.

There’s a lot of foreplay in this show and no orgasm.

In Art Heist, playwrights TJ Dawe and Ming Hudson offer an experience in which audiences of up to 10 people sleuth around Granville Island trying to figure out who pulled off a half-billion-dollar theft from Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum in 1990. There are 13 clues in the form of QR codes (which you hunt like Easter eggs) and there are five folks to interview. Time and space are flexible: a couple of the interviewees are dead; some exist in the present and some in the past. [Read more…]

A Hundred Words for Snow: but where’s the subtlety?

Hundred Words for Snow, United Players, Vancouver theatre

Hana Joi does her best with clumsy material in A Hundred Words for Snow. (Photo by Doug Williams)

This is the first time I’ve attended a live performance since the beginning of the plague, so I’m going to start off by talking about that.

Going in, I was mildly freaked out; I’m 68 and I’m taking immunosuppressant drugs. Because I’m vulnerable, I wore a mask and a face shield. But I ditched the shield after about eight minutes because it made me feel like I was in another room. Besides, I was aware that United Players, the producing company, was taking good care of me. [Read more…]

Three Little Pieces — with big hearts

Vagrant Players, Three Little Pieces

David Lennon and Stephanie George try for love at first click in the age of COVID.

Who wants to be seduced? I’m not talking about hard-wired seduction, the kind that’s all about your junk. I’m talking about the kind that opens your heart to irrational possibilities — like love — the kind that sets you floating in the universe and leaves you feeling a little drunk around the edges. [Read more…]

B bombs

In B, a bomb comes disguised as a birthday present. (Photo by Tim Matheson)

I was so painfully bored after the first hour of B that I fled to my bed and watched the remaining 45 minutes the next morning. In those 45 minutes, Guillermo Calderón’s script gets a tiny bit better. A  tiny bit.   [Read more…]

Good Things To Do is a good thing to do

Friends, do yourselves a favour and get tickets for the remaining online performances of Good Things To Do from Rumble Theatre. They’re only five bucks at Eventbrite:
There are three more shows tonight and Rumble has extended the run to next weekend, April 30 to May 2. (NOW NEXT WEEKEND TOO.)
Good Things To Do is an excellent example of a local theatre company adapting to available media.
I took in the participatory performance last night. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Good Things To Do offers a welcome asylum of tenderness.
Christine Quintana is the core creator of the poetic, dreamlike script. It gets a tiny bit cloying and repetitive, but it is unfailingly gentle — and it’s elemental and sincere, so it pays off. When it was done, I had a good ol’ cathartic sob.
I also want to thank Molly MacKinnon and Mishelle Cutler for the collaboration on the project, which includes liquid sound and music designs.
Book now. Space is limited. Feel free to share this post.

Tom Kerr, “a giant of a man”

Obituary of director Tom Kerr

Tom Kerr was a major force in Canadian theatre and has left an enormous legacy.

Hi everybody,

Glen Cairns, the longtime partner of theatre director and teacher Tom Kerr, wrote the tribute I’m sharing here.

Stay well,
Colin [Read more…]

Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience. The event is more rewarding than the script.

Inheritance: a pick-the-path adventure is playing at the Annex.

A treasure map: not the best choice. (Photo of Medina Hahn and Daniel Arnold by David Cooper)

Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience is more successful as a political and educational tool than it is as art — and it’s worth seeing. [Read more…]

The Wedding Party: Say “I don’t”

The Arts Club and Prairie Theatre Exchange are presenting The Wedding Party at the BMO Theatre Centre.

Luisa Jojic and Todd Thomson: these two are both very good.
(Photo by David Cooper)

It’s enough to put you off going to the theatre.

There’s some good acting in The Wedding Party, but the script is so stupid. [Read more…]

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