Archives for December 2021

Snowflake: Let it snow!

There’s a whodunnit aspect to Snowflake: Andy wonders about the significance of Natalie’s tattoo. (Photo of Natasha Burnett and Aaron Craven by Shimon Karmel)

It always amazes me when a show manages to save itself in Act 2. This production of Snowflake does that — splendidly.

In playwright Mike Bartlett’s Snowflake, the first act is a monologue delivered by a guy named Andy. As he waits in a church hall in his hometown of Oxfordshire, England on Christmas Eve, Andy has an imaginary conversation with his estranged daughter Maya, who left home suddenly after the death of her mom. Andy hasn’t heard from Maya in three years and he’s desperately hoping she’ll show up. (He believes he’s managed to leave a message for her requesting a meeting.)

But Andy spends most of Act 2 with a young woman named Natalie, who’s there to collect crockery for another event. She’s Black, Andy’s white, and one of the first questions out of Natalie’s mouth is, “So how racist are you, then?” [Read more…]

The Power of the Dog: Saddle Horny

There’s lots to like, including the performances and Johnny Greenwood’s sparse score, but …
(Photo of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Benedict Cumberbatch: Netflix)

If you listen to the first two lines of The Power of the Dog, you will know exactly where this movie is going, so do yourself a favour: listen and save yourself from two (mostly) tedious hours.
I say “mostly” because, thanks to cinematographer Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog is gorgeous to look at: sweeping vistas of the Montana hills (really New Zealand hills), herds of cattle flowing like rivers.
Clearly, writer and director Jane Campion is intent on telling an epic story, but the scale of her imagery only highlights the barrenness of her narrative.

[Read more…]

Lights — but not much action

publicity photo for the play Lights

This isn’t a production shot, but it’s cool. (Photo of Susinn McFarlen by David Cooper)

On opening night, several people told me that they enjoyed Touchstone Theatre’s production of Adam Grant Warren’s new play Lights. I did not. I’m going to lay out my reasons, not because I’m trying to suck the pleasure out of anybody’s experience, but because I have faith that discussion and a variety of opinions can be helpful.

In Warren’s script, a guy named Evan flies to St. John’s to spend Christmas with his mom Nancy, who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The best thing about this play is that it doesn’t turn Nancy into a tragic figure who’s entirely defined by her illness. She’s witty. She’s a family member and everybody’s trying to figure out the next steps. Similarly, Evan’s wheelchair doesn’t define him, although issues do come up. He accuses Nancy of selfishness, for instance, because she insisted on raising him in a lovely house — full of stairs. [Read more…]

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