The best holiday show I’ve seen (so far) this year

Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto, The Cultch, The York Theatre, Allan Zinyk

Pink brocade turns Allan Zinyk into an evil stepmother in Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto. It does not have the same effect on me. (I’ve checked.)

Hands down, my favourite holiday show (so far) this year is Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto.

It’s original, it’s community-minded, it’s a little outrageous, and it’s got kids in it. What’s not to like?  [Read more…]

Heather Redfern: yay!

Heather Redfern, the Cultch

Vancouverites are lucky that Heather Redfern is at the Cultch

I want to give a shout-out to Heather Redfern, the executive director at the Cultch.

Already, this fall, I’ve seen three remarkable shows in Cultch venues.

The Australian acrobats who performed A Simple Space at the York reminded me of the wild joy of being in a body. Their work was like a deep, fresh kiss.  [Read more…]

Cock and Nirbhaya provide vastly different experiences

Cock, Rumble Theatre, Performance Works

In Cock, W (Donna Soares, L), and M (Shawn Macdonald, R) fight over John (Nadeem Phillip)

I’ve got two very different shows to recommend this week.

Mike Bartlett’s Cock is a comedy about an existential crisis of sexual identity. John has been living with M, an older man, but falls in love—much to his surprise—with W, a woman. John can’t choose, so he keeps saying “yes” to everybody.

To make M feel better, John says that W is “manly”, which leads to a running gag in which which M refers to W’s Yeti-like masculinity.

Duncan Fraser’s slyly understated take on F, M’s father, is a highlight of this Rumble Theatre production. (Sorry. When I first posted this, I got my Ws and Fs mixed up.)

Cock runs until November 8.

Nirbhaya, the Cultch, York Theatre

Rusher Kabir and Sneha Jawale share their stories of gender-based violence in Nirbhaya. Ankur Vikal helps to tell the stories.

At the York Theatre, until November 14,  you can have a completely different experience with Nirbhaya, which was inspired by the 2012 gang rape and torture of Jyoti Singh Pandey in South Delhi. Two weeks after the attack, Pandey died of her injuries.

Nirbhaya tells her story. Four of the women in the cast also tell the true stories of how they themselves were victims of gender-based violence.

The material is horrific and the telling is artful. Nirbhaya is a milestone, a show that people will refer to for years.

A Simple Space will make your body sing

A Simple Space, Gravity & Other Myths, the Cultch

The acrobatic circus, A Simple Space, is physically ecstatic

A Simple Space is all about pleasure in the body.

Gravity & Other Myths, the elegantly minimalist acrobatic troupe from Australia is so playfully athletic that the kids in your life will totally—and innocently—dig their show. And A Simple Space is so essentially erotic that you will—innocently—appreciate it on a whole other level. (I mean, really, these folks are hot. Let’s admit that. And celebrate it.)

Their skill level is crazy, and there are thrills to match. The performers go flying through the air and land on one another’s shoulders. They do one-armed handstands on one another’s heads. They climb up one another then hurl themselves into space. They toss one another around like rag dolls.

Buy your tickets now. A Simple Space is at the York Theatre until October 24, but don’t let that lull you into complacency. Once word gets out, this one is going to sell out. So pick up that phone or go to the Cultch’s website. (And, if you can, get seats on the stage.)

 

 

Buy your tickets RIGHT NOW for Empire of the Son

Tetsuro Shigemetsu in Empire of the Son at the Cultch

Testuro Shigemetsu’s solo show, Empire of the Son, is even cooler than this photo—and a lot less scary.

Okay, this is kind of the artistic equivalent of insider trading, but you should buy your tickets for Tetsuro Shigematsu’s Empire of the Son right now before my review is posted online—and before other critics have a chance to chime in and word of mouth hits high gear.

In The Vancouver Sun, Erika Thorkelson has already praised the show, others are bound to follow suit, and, even though the Cultch has extended the run by a full week to October 24, tickets are selling fast and there aren’t many left.

Empire of the Son is about Shigematsu’s relationship with his father, Akira. Like most men in most cultures, they’re part of a lineage of self-containment. Movingly, and with great complexity, this script explores compassion and love.

The writing is gorgeous, and, thanks to Richard Wolfe’s direction, Pam Johnson’s set, Gerald King’s lighting, Steve Charles’s sound design, and Carole Macdonald’s props, the production is superb.

If you try to get tickets tomorrow and they’re sold out, don’t say I didn’t warn you.