Archives for August 2022

Romeo and Juliet: holey palmers

promo photo Romeo and Juliet

Ghazal Azarbad and Andrew McNee in Romeo and Juliet (Photo: Tim Matheson)

As an ex of mine said just before he stopped talking to me forever, “This is not how I hoped things would work out.” I have huge respect for the body of director Anita Rochon’s work and for the skills of many of the other creatives on this team but, in my experience, this production of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t hold together.

That said, there are significant successes in the unwieldy mix, so let’s start with those. (If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here’s a synopsis.)

Playing Juliet’s mom, Lady Capulet, Jennifer Lines brings her trademark warmth and emotional depth. As soon as this Lady Capulet steps onstage, you recognize her humanity, and soon you understand her complexity. The character starts off wary of forcing Juliet to marry too young, as she herself was married. But, when Juliet becomes defiant in her love for Romeo, whose family is feuding with the Capulets, Lady Capulet feels compelled to enforce the system that damaged her: in the most emotionally wrenching — and successful — scene in this production, Lady Capulet rages at Juliet, telling her that, if she doesn’t consent to marrying Paris, the suitor her family prefers, Juliet is no longer welcome in her home and can die in the street. In Lines’s characterization, there’s a horrible inevitability to all of this.

In the original script, this rage belongs to Juliet’s father, a character director Rochon has cut to good effect. [Read more…]

Dooja Ghar: the pleasures of a summer night

poster for Dooja Ghar, Monsoon Festival




















It was like a holiday.

A friend and I drove out to Langley to see Dooja Ghar, Paneet Singh and Andy Kalirai’s modern retelling of a seventeenth-century Punjabi love story. Driving through the farmland in the early summer evening was such a gentle, expansive experience it was like floating. The show, which is part of this year’s Monsoon Festival, is being staged in the cathedral-like loft of a barn. And it’s very good.

Set in Surrey, BC in the 90s, the Singh/Kalirai telling is about a young guy named Mirza who comes from India when he’s eleven to live with the family of a girl named Sahiban, who’s the same age. (Sahiban’s family owes Mirza’s a favour.) When they’re fourteen, they start falling for one another big time. Sahiban’s family regards them as siblings, however, and Mirza, it seems, is lower caste, so things don’t go smoothly.

Although the narrative trajectory is predictable, Singh and Kalirai always keep it engaging. Partly, they do that by respecting Sahiban’s conflict: she loves Mirza, but she also loves and needs her family.

And the playwrights offer all sorts of humour and other stylistic surprises. When Sahiban’s parents insist that she interview other potential husbands, the narrator drags male audience members onstage to be (gently) grilled. The evening is enlivened by pure movement: Nasiv Sall’s dance choreography and Sam Jeffery and PIP’s intimacy direction add joy and eroticism; Arash Khakpour’s fight choreography brings excitement [Read more…]

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!