Mx: a mixed review from me

publicity photo for Mx at The Cultch

Lili Robinson wrote and stars in Mx. (Photo by Christache Ross)

I’m a white guy reviewing a show about mixed-race identity, specifically the reclamation of Black identity. The lack of diversity in criticism is a serious problem and I’ve been trying to find ways to address it, but I lack resources. I’ve recently had a conversation with a colleague who’s better at accessing money than I am. I hope something comes of that.

For now, I’m going to review Mx because The Cultch asked me to and because I hope that something I say might be helpful. Fair warning: I’m going to approach this more as a technician than as a member of Mx‘s target audience.

Within that context, there are all sorts of cool — and, for me, moving — things about this remount of Mx. I first saw it when it was presented at the Fringe in 2019. It won the Cultchivating the Fringe Award that year, a prize that offers further development and a remount.

Mx has come back stronger. [Read more…]

Fifty Shades of Vinyl: you can do anything to me if you make me laugh

Screen grab from Fifty Shades of Vinyl.

In Fifty Shades of Vinyl, Nico Dicecco displays his skills as both a storyteller and mimic.

The fun started when I was trying to book a ticket for this online show using my phone: voice-to-text translated Fifty Shades of Vinyl as Fifty Shades of Anal. That was just the beginning of the evening.

In Fifty Shades of Vinyl, writers Kyle Carpenter and Nico Dicecco affectionately parody Stuart McLean’s classic CBC radio program The Vinyl Café. (McLean died in 2017.)

Fifty Shades of Vinyl is the midnight version of The Vinyl Cafe: it gets sexual. You should know, though, that it never gets explicit or vulgar. And it’s not dehumanizing. Dale and Marnie, the Fifty Shades versions of McLean’s characters Dave and Morley, love one another more and more as their sex life gets kinkier. [Read more…]

Rishi and d Douen: hang in (if you can)

company image for Rishi and d DouenI’m glad I stuck around for the last two episodes of the three-part audio series Rishi & d Douen; they’re so much better than Episode 1.

The story is about a nine-year-old named Rishi, who uses they/them pronouns according to Carousel’s press material. Like their Uncle Papaboisee Mamou, who’s a little crazy, Rishi can have conversations with plants and animals — in English. [Read more…]

Unexpecting: we should expect more

Arts Club's poster for UnexpectingBronwyn Carradine is a recent alumnus of the Arts Club’s Emerging Playwrights’ Unit. That means she’s veryfreshly baked, but she’s already demonstrating considerable control of craft in her new audio play Unexpecting.

Carradine’s story is about lesbian couple Annie and Jo. They fervently want to adopt a baby but their careers as a writer and painter/gallery owner hit the skids just as they become finalists in a selection process that will be decided by Sawyer, the biological mom-to-be. [Read more…]

She Sells Sea Shells: I ain’t buyin’ ’em. (But they’re pretty.)

publicity photo for She Sells Sea Shells

Krista Skwarok and Isaac Li in She Sells Sea Shells (Photo cropped from an original by Nancy Caldwell)

Watching She Sells Sea Shells is like watching somebody you like dating the wrong guy: admirable artists have worked very hard and very skilfully on this production, but Helen Eastman’s script isn’t worthy of their talents and attention.

I’m going to chew on the script for a bit before I get into the interpretive successes. [Read more…]

The Cave: Enter quickly (only two more shows left)

production photo from The Cave

Screen grab of Derek Kwan as Fox.

John Millard’s music for The Cave is glorious. And who couldn’t use some gloriousness these days?

The Cave is a musical cabaret with characters and a narrative. Pursued by fire, the animals of the forest are running for their lives. They take refuge in Bear’s cave, where they tell stories, struggle to breathe, and await their fate.

This both is and isn’t as heavy as it sounds. The Cave is almost ecstatically entertaining. [Read more…]

Panto Come Home!: ghosts of Christmases past

Publicity photo: Panto Come Home!

Photo of Donna Soares, Mark Chavez, Dawn Petten and Amanda Sum by Emily Cooper

The whole is less than the sum of its parts, but some of those parts are excellent.

This year’s (online) East Van Panto is a collection of greatest musical hits from the last seven years of The Cultch and Theatre Replacement’s pantos. Writer Mark Chavez strings the songs together with a story that’s triggered by the arrival of the Phanto of the Panto. A Phantom of the Opera kind of guy, the Phanto has been lurking in the bowels of the York Theatre for years and he’s seen every frickin’ performance of every frickin’ panto since 2013; he’s desperate to see something new and he suggests the company build this year’s show around the little-known Grimm brothers tale “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage” (which actually exists). [Read more…]

Be-Longing embraces double-jointed identities

screen shot from The Frank Theatre's Be-Longing

When KhattieQ talks, you listen: she’s not just showing off, she just means it.

A lot of the work in Be-Longing is skilled. And, although not everything in the piece succeeds for me, there’s an underlying integrity to it that makes several passages compelling. [Read more…]

Nom Nom Gnomes: Nope

Carousel Theatre recommends this 30-minute audio play for kids who are three years old and up, but I can’t imagine any kid I know sitting still for it. I could barely manage. [Read more…]

Pathetic Fallacy: far from pathetic, but not riveting

promo photo for Pathetic Fallacy

It isn’t easy being green — but it comes with an invisibility cloak.

 

Conceptually, it’s cool and sometimes it’s pretty, but it’s not substantial.

Created in 2018, Pathetic Fallacy emerged from core creator Anita Rochon’s determination to share her theatre work internationally without flying all over the place and contributing to climate change. [Read more…]

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