Archives for June 2015

The thing Bard does that bugs me

The Comedy of Errors, Bard on the Beach

A squid makes an unscripted, unwelcome, and witless appearance in The Comedy of Errors

I am a big, big fan of Bard on the Beach. Every year, I look forward to Bard’s season and I’m very picky about who I take to those shows: the tickets are like gold as far as I’m concerned.

Artistic director Christopher Gaze and the rest of the company have built a strong and important institution. Gaze provides lots of opportunities for young artists—especially actors and directors—to advance their skills. And Bard has brought me some of the most transcendent theatrical experiences of my life. I’m thinking about Dean Paul Gibson’s first mounting of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago, for instance.

But there’s something that Bard does that really bugs me: too often, the company dumbs down Shakespeare’s comedies.  [Read more…]

Value of Things lower than expected

The hip-hop section is the strongest in The Value of Things

The hip-hop section is the strongest in The Value of Things

The performers are beautiful. Aspects of the artistry are beautiful. But, for the most part, The Value of Things is thematically obvious.

Created by Montréal’s dance/theatre company Grand Poney, The Value of Things is about materialism and craving.

[Read more…]

Cross-dressing fun in Glengarry Glen Ross

Corina Akeson, Colleen Winton, Glengarry Glen Ross

Corina Akeson gets study as Moss and Colleen Winton goes desperate as Levene in Classic Chic’s Glengarry Glen Ross

Hands down, the best show running this weekend (that I’ve seen), is Classic Chic’s production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.

Rachel Peake directs a talented cast of women who play the characters, who are all male, in Mamet’s examination of ruthless capitalism in a Chicago real-estate office.

Playing the posturing, macho Moss, Corina Akeson is a standout.

Glengarry Glen Ross runs until June 27.

Check out my full review here:


A civilian response to Candide

Candide, Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein’s music for Candide is delicious. If only the work had a more disciplined and rewarding libretto.

Before I start spouting off about the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Candide, allow me to apologize for my lack of qualifications for doing so.

In my book, critical opinion should be informed by knowledge and experience. This criterion work in my favour when I’m reviewing theatre—including musical theatre—for the Georgia Straight. I’ve been paying serious attention to theatre for almost 50 years now and reviewing it for 30.

But I have no specialized knowledge of music, and the VSO’s oratorio-style presentation of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide is primarily musical. So this isn’t an informed review: it’s an honest reaction from a guy who was very glad to get a free ticket.

Got it? Okay, good.

In my experience, Leonard Bernstein’s music is is dizzying combination of beauty, wit, and accessibility; listening to the song “It Must Be So” in Act 1, I got the same lovely ache in my heart that I get when I start to tear up at Theatre Under the Stars: it’s just so damn pretty. The orchestra, under Bramwell Tovey’s direction, impressed me with its precision. And, to my untrained ear, the lushness and variety of the music was almost overwhelming. Many of the performers in this mounting are terrific.  [Read more…]

It’s all in the casting. Well, a whole lot of it is, anyway.

Caitlin McCarthy, Scratch

Caitlin McCarthy’s character, Anna, has a dying mom—and head lice—in Charlotte Corbel-Coleman’s Scratch

You know what they say: it’s all in the casting. And director Genevieve Fleming has cast very well in Scratch: Eileen Barrett, David Bloom, Stephanie Izsak, Caitlin McCarthy, Tamara McCarthy, and Markian Tarasiuk all come together to explore Charlotte Corbeille-Colman’s script, in which the central character, a teenage girl, tries to cope with the death of her mother.

The script is often funny as well as moving, and the actors lavish such love on it, they are all so responsive to it, that they explore every bit of the script’s potential for evoking both laughter and tears.

The script itself is a little wonky—there’s not enough plot, and it goes on a bit too long—but its textures are so interesting that it does a surprisingly good job of sustaining itself.

Scratch plays at the Havana until June 13.

Riveting radio: me talking about the editing process

Co-op Radio, editing

The people! United! Will never! Stop! Talking!

On Tuesday (June 2), I had a great time talking about literary editing with hosts Julia Vergara and Art Hartmut on the Co-op Radio program, The Writing Life.

We had a great time chatting about sometimes surprising things. Theatre kept sneaking in. And so did the lessons that both literature and theatre teach us about compassion.

Here’s the link:

The whole thing runs about 24 minutes, but you can jump around.

Tune in: three-act structure and me on Co-op Radio

three-act structure, Vancouver Co-op Radio, editing

Okay, so this is a boring image, but YOU try to come up with an image for “three-act structure”.

This afternoon (Tuesday, June 2) between 2:00 and 2:30, I’m going to be on Co-op Radio talking about the editing process.

Knowing me, I’ll probably bring up the three-act structure, which is a very handy tool. For easy reference, here it is: [Read more…]

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