Archives for October 2022

Yaga: Tell me a (better) story

Colleen Wheeler, Aidan Correia, and Genevieve Fleming
(Photo by Pedro Augusto Meza)

Despite the sometimes superlative strengths of this production, the evening doesn’t satisfy — at least it didn’t satisfy me. That’s because, although there’s a lot of plot in Kat Sandler’s twisty script, there isn’t  an engaging story. [Read more…]

The Café: Make your reservations now

publicity photo for The Café

If you see this guy, Ben Elliott, who performs in the short play Father’s Day, grab a seat nearby.

I love it when a show makes me work and The Café had me hoppin’. The evening also offers a tasty tasting menu of emerging and established local talent.

In The Café, which was conceived by Fay Nass, seven short plays are performed at tables scattered around Kafka’s, which is a real-world café on Great Northern Way. The scripts unfold simultaneously, but each is repeated three times, so your job as an audience member is to catch as many of the offerings as you can — especially the ones you’re particularly eager to see. Don’t worry, there’s no audience participation, but you are encouraged to sidle right up to the performers, to sit and stand beside them.

And you’re going to want to do that because it’s magical. How often do you get to sit just a couple of feet away from somebody as they completely — deliberately, skilfully — transform themselves into a different human being? Every time an actor does that, it’s like they’re opening a portal to a parallel universe. And, unless you’re an actor yourself, you rarely get to see it this close up.   [Read more…]

Bad Parent: Yeah, kinda

publicity photo for Bad Parent by Ins Choi

Josette Jorge and Raugi Yu deliver super charming performances.
(Photo by Dahlia Katz)

I’m going to suspend judgment on this one. Okay, no, I’m not, I have opinions. But I will acknowledge the context of my response.

First opinion: an hour is long time to watch a couple bickering, especially if you don’t like them very much. [Read more…]

Redbone Coonhound: diminishing returns

publicity photo for Redbone Coonhound

Now THAT’S how you design costumes.
Emerjade Simms and Kwesi Ameyaw in costumes by CS Fergusson-Vaux.
(Photo by Moonrider Productions)

This is unusual: a relatively positive review has come back to haunt me — well, to tap me on the shoulder.

When the Arts Club mounted Redbone Coonhound as part of its audio play series, I kind of liked it. Back in February, I said about the play, “It isn’t always subtle or precisely focused, but it’s got force!” Having seen the piece fully staged, I’m less enthusiastic.

The script, which was written by married couple Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton, runs on two tracks. On one, a Vancouver couple named Mike and Marissa encounter a pair of joggers and their dog, a redbone coonhound they’ve had shipped up from Louisiana. Mike, who’s Black, is offended by the apparent racism of the breed name. Marissa is white. Her initial response to Mike’s agitation: “It’s just some old-timey name.” In this relatively naturalistic storyline, the coonhound encounter seeps into and informs a gathering of Mike and Marissa’s friends.

The play’s second track consists of a series of “fever dreams”, broadly satirical fantasies about historical and future framings of race — and, to a far lesser degree, misogyny. [Read more…]

Blue Stockings: Feminism 101

publicity photo for Blue Stockings

Kevin Nguyen and Zoë Autumn in Blue Stockings (Photo by Emily Cooper)

I wish there was a time store where I could go and demand a refund.

The subject matter of Jessica Swale’s 2013 script is potentially fascinating. Set in 1896, Blue Stockings is about women’s struggle to be granted degrees at Cambridge University. The story features four female students, all gifted scientists, who are members of Girton College, the first college at Cambridge to accept female scholars. If the push for accreditation is successful, these four could be the first women to receive formal degree qualification.

But Swale’s script is politically heavy handed, and it doesn’t find its focus until the second act. Including intermission, the evening clocks in at three hours. (When I realized there was going to be a second act, I suppressed a moan.) [Read more…]

Benevolence: exuberance, compassion


publicity photo for Benevolence

Okay, just start giving Charlie Gallant prizes for his performance in Benevolence. (Photo by Moonrider Productions)

On my trip to Benevolence, I started on a hill, then wandered through a valley. As I climbed the rise on the other side, I was surprised to find a startling view. Translation: I got bored in the middle of this show, but there’s such an excellent payoff that my overriding response is gratitude. [Read more…]

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