Archives for April 2019

Dead People’s Things: dump ’em

Zee Zee Theatre is presenting Dave Deveau's Dead People's Things at Studio 16.

Eileen Barrett and Meghan Chenovsky at the end of Dead People’s Things, which is when things get more interesting.
(Photo by Tina Krueger Kulic)

This play contains one moderately interesting idea. It comes very near the end of the 95-minute runtime. It’s a long wait.

In Dave Deveau’s new script, Dead People’s Things, a young woman named Phyllis has inherited a house from her estranged aunt, who was a hoarder. When Phyllis shows up at the property, Beatrice, an older woman who was the aunt’s neighbour and best friend, greets her with the keys—and undisguised hostility. [Read more…]

Bed & Breakfast: Don’t spend the night

The Arts Club is presenting Bed & Breakfast at the Granville Island Stage.

Five shades of grey: Mark Crawford and Paul Dunn wear Dana Osborne’s costumes on her set. (Photo by Moonrider Productions)

The title is a spoiler.

The show is called Bed & Breakfast for Christ’s sake so, when gay couple Brett and Drew spend their first half hour onstage together dithering about whether or they’re going to open a B&B, I felt like screaming, “Haven’t you read the program? Haven’t you seen the posters? Get on it with it!” [Read more…]

Cherry Docs: steel-toed and heavy-handed

Cave Canem is presenting Cherry Docs at Pacific Theatre.

John Voth and Kenton Klassen paper over some script issues in the legal drama Cherry Docs. (Photo by Jason Benson)

 

Guest review by David Johnston

It’s a good production and, when the script occasionally gets out of its own way, it becomes great.

In Cave Canem’s latest outing, neo-Nazi skinhead Mike (Kenton Klassen) has stomped a Hindu man to death; liberal Jewish lawyer Danny (John Voth) is assigned as his counsel. They obviously don’t like each other, but Mike needs Danny to save him from a lengthy prison sentence and Danny needs Mike to… honestly, Danny’s initial impulse for taking the case is never quite clarified. As a challenge? An obsession? Danny needs Mike because if Danny didn’t need Mike, there’d be no show. Get on board.

What follows is … not exactly a legal procedural, although Cherry Docs dresses up in a procedural jumpsuit and struts around for a while. That’s actually a good thing; law dramas have become ridonkulously prolific since the play’s 1998 debut, so it’s swell that this isn’t merely the rote story of an amateur lawyer defending a client he hates. Sure, David Gow’s script tells that story, but it’s in the background of the real plot.

This isn’t How To Acquit A Skinhead 101. The murder victim is left nameless (a deeply uncomfortable decision) and the legal machinations are presented as an afterthought, so the show can focus on the feelings of two straight white men. (Incidentally, this is the point where Cherry Docs feels most dated; an odd-couple legal drama written today would likely find slightly more diverse starting positions for its two protagonists.) [Read more…]

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives – The truth is in the details

The Firehall Arts Centre is presenting The Tashme Project: The Living Archives at the Firehall Arts Centre.

Julie Tamako Manning and Matt Miwa extend a hand to the past in The Tashme Project.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives is an elegantly simple, moving, and important piece of theatre.

Julie Tamako Manning and Matt Miwa, who created and perform the show, each have one Japanese parent and, when they met while working at the National Arts Centre a few years ago, they discovered that they have something else in common: members of both of their families were imprisoned at Tashme, the Japanese internment camp that was set up near Hope during WWII. But, like many third- and fourth-generation Japanese Canadians, the artists knew very little about that history.

For The Tashme Project, they interviewed the second generation, the Nisei, who were kids during the internment and are now elderly. The Nisei rarely talk about the internment. When asked to speak for this project, however, they spilled. [Read more…]

New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken—homemade okayness

The Cultch is presenting New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken at the York.

The sing! They peel potatoes! (Photo by Charles Frédérick Ouellet)

New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken is inventive but not dazzling, an intermittently engaging form of theatrical folk art.

In the show, a cast of six prepares a meal of chicken and mashed potatoes as well as appetizers—all while performing popular American songs from the 30s. The music involves a lot of yodeling and harmonies from the two female performers, who are billed as the New Cackle Sisters. And the instrumentation includes everything from kazoos to a tuba and percussion achieved by slapping raw poultry.

The meal prep is just as eccentric. When the New Cackle Sisters peel the potatoes, for instance, one of them skewers a potato with a hand-held drill, then turns it on, rotating the potato at speed while the other runs a peeler along it as if she were working a lathe. Potato skin and chunks of potato go flying. [Read more…]

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