Archives for March 2019

Chimerica: how many hours do you have to spare?

United Players is presenting Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica at the Jericho Arts Centre.

Playing a young revolutionary couple, Olivia Poon and Angus Yam provide some of the most human moments in Chimerica. (Photo by Nancy Caldwell)

I thought it was never going to end. Then, after two hours, the lights finally came up—but it was only intermission. We had another hour and a half to go.

Playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica is about the current murky codependence between China and the States. To explore it, she has invented a character named Joe Schofield, a New Yorker whom she credits with taking the famous photograph of the lone protester standing in front of tanks in Tienanmen Square in 1989. Joe was 18. Now it’s 23 years later and Joe is searching for the guy he calls Tank Man. He says he’s doing it because he wants to celebrate Tank Man’s heroism in an age of equivocation, but he also needs to revive his flagging career—and perhaps his sense of moral purpose.

Flying to Beijing, Joe meets Tessa Kendrick, a British market researcher. She’s afraid of flying. He holds her hand. But she’s also tough so, you know: sparks.

Joe’s friend Zhang Lin, who lives in Beijing, is a former Tienanmen protester and current uneasy pragmatist. He pays lip service to accommodating the damage caused by China’s economic “miracle”—including the lethal smog that the Communist Party passes off as weather— but his wife, who was killed in the massacre, keeps appearing in his fridge like a fragment of the conscience he’s put on ice.

Joe’s search for Tank Man ensnares everybody in a convoluted, sometimes bloody detective story that weaves its way through New York’s boroughs—slowly. [Read more…]

The Orchard (After Chekhov): hobbled by imitation

Loveleen comforts Kesur in Sarena Parmar's The Orchard (After Chekhov)

The Orchard (After Chekhov) is at its best when it’s quiet—like in this exchange between actors Parm Soor and Laara Sadiq. (Photo by David Cooper)

 

There are good bits, but overall it’s a mess. And the primary faults are in the writing and direction.

In The Orchard (After Chekhov), Sarena Parmar, who grew up in Kelowna, resets Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in the Okanagan in 1974. The central characters are no longer aristocratic Russian landowners; they are South Asian-Canadian farmers, Sikhs from the Punjab.

It’s a clumsy fit. [Read more…]

A Vista: a trip

 

Fight With a Stick is presenting A Vista at the Massey Theatre

Mark Rothko didn’t paint the backdrops for A Vista, but it kind of feels like he did. (This is Untitled, 1960)

I rarely have such exhilarating aesthetic experiences at the theatre.

A Vista consists of three parts: “Full Drops”, which I saw last night; “Portals”, which is playing tonight (March 21), and “Legs” (March 22). You don’t have to see one to appreciate the others.

Hunker down because this is going to sound dull at first. In “Full Drops”, a crew lays out 15 folded painted backdrops on the huge stage of the Massey Theatre, then they tie them to steel pipes called battens and raise them. The rest of the performance consists of the slow rearrangement of these drops in relation to one another: they go up and down in different sequences. It takes about two hours—and it’s a fucking trip. (If you don’t believe me, ask the three little boys who were also at the show last night. You get to move around to different viewing areas during these performances and those kids were scuttling about as eagerly as I was—because we were all on an adventure.) [Read more…]

Marine Life: a bit watered down

Guest review by David Johnston

Ruby Slippers is presenting Marine Life at the Firehall.

Alen Dominguez, Christine Quintana, and Sebastien Archibald: in over their heads in Marine Life. (Tim Matheson pic)

There are several plays inside Ruby Slippers Theatre’s production of Marine Life. I even enjoyed one of them.

My favorite Marine Life is the screwball romantic comedy. Here, lawyer Rupert (Sebastien Archibald) and activist Sylvia (Christine Quintana) have a highly improbable meet-cute and immediately begin dating. This is followed by lots of fighting and bantering and declarations of love amidst rat-a-tat jokes. She loves the environment! He goes fishing! Can these two crazy kids make it work?!

 [Read more…]

Gross Misconduct: the writer overplays her hand

SpeakEasy Theatre is presenting Gross Misconduct at the Gateway Theatre.

Ian Butcher, Mike Gill, and Scott Bellis engage in Gross Misconduct (Photo by David Cooper)

This play could have been more than it is.

In Meghan Gardiner’s Gross Misconduct, Deke, who’s been in jail for a long time—and who, incredibly, seems to have had a two-bunk cell to himself for years—finds out that he’s got a cellmate all of a sudden: a young guy named Corey who’s scared shitless and won’t shut up. Deke is reading a book in which a woman named Abby recounts how she was raped as an adolescent. [Read more…]

Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. Why?

Monster Theatre is presenting Jesus Christ: The Lost Years at the Havana Theatre.

This undeniably excellent poster is by Kurt Firla. (It’s the Fringe version; ignore the dates.)

There’s nothing seriously wrong with Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. And there are some things that are majorly right. I’m just not super clear on why it exists.

In this hour-long show, writers Ryan Gladstone, Katherine Sanders, and Bruce Horak imagine what Jesus might have been up to between the ages of 13 and 30, during which time he disappears from the historical record. In their telling, Jesus is traumatized when he finds out that Joseph isn’t his biological father and sets off in search of his “real dad”. [Read more…]

Reverberations: intermittent seismic activity

Reverberations, a site-specific work by Brian Linds, is playing at Presentation House.

In Reverberations, Brian Linds explores his family history.

One of the sections in Reverberations, an installation/performance piece by Brian Linds, knocked me out.

In Reverberations, Linds, who has worked primarily as a sound designer for the past several years, explores his family history through five pieces that are all set up in their own spaces in Presentation House. Every unit has a significant sound component. Groups of up to 20 audience members each start in different rooms and move from space to space. [Read more…]

Jesus Freak (or Atheists are Assholes)

Pacific Theatre is presenting Peter Boychuk's Jesus Freak.

Pay particular attention to these two: Katharine Venour and Kaitlin Williams in Jesus Freak. (Photo by Jailin Laine Photography)

There are several plays going on at once in Jesus Freak. One of them is good.

In the story, a liberal family gathers for Easter weekend in their getaway home on one of the Gulf Islands. Susan and Alan’s adult daughter Clara, who is pursuing post-graduate studies in political science in Montreal, comes out as Christian. All hell breaks loose. [Read more…]

The Good Bride: not so good

Solid performance. Delightful set. (Photo of Carolyn Rapansos’s design and Marissa Emma Smith in character by Wendy D Photography)

I took little naps in the blackouts between scenes: when the lights went down, so did my eyelids. That’s because sweet nothing happens for at least the first 85 minutes of The Good Bride’s 100-minute runtime. And I’m not just talking about the dearth of plot; there is no significant accumulation of anything. [Read more…]

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