Marine Life: a bit watered down

Guest review by David Johnston

Ruby Slippers is presenting Marine Life at the Firehall.

Alen Dominguez, Christine Quintana, and Sebastien Archibald: in over their heads in Marine Life. (Tim Matheson pic)

There are several plays inside Ruby Slippers Theatre’s production of Marine Life. I even enjoyed one of them.

My favorite Marine Life is the screwball romantic comedy. Here, lawyer Rupert (Sebastien Archibald) and activist Sylvia (Christine Quintana) have a highly improbable meet-cute and immediately begin dating. This is followed by lots of fighting and bantering and declarations of love amidst rat-a-tat jokes. She loves the environment! He goes fishing! Can these two crazy kids make it work?!

 [Read more…]

Gross Misconduct: the writer overplays her hand

SpeakEasy Theatre is presenting Gross Misconduct at the Gateway Theatre.

Ian Butcher, Mike Gill, and Scott Bellis engage in Gross Misconduct (Photo by David Cooper)

This play could have been more than it is.

In Meghan Gardiner’s Gross Misconduct, Deke, who’s been in jail for a long time—and who, incredibly, seems to have had a two-bunk cell to himself for years—finds out that he’s got a cellmate all of a sudden: a young guy named Corey who’s scared shitless and won’t shut up. Deke is reading a book in which a woman named Abby recounts how she was raped as an adolescent. [Read more…]

Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. Why?

Monster Theatre is presenting Jesus Christ: The Lost Years at the Havana Theatre.

This undeniably excellent poster is by Kurt Firla. (It’s the Fringe version; ignore the dates.)

There’s nothing seriously wrong with Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. And there are some things that are majorly right. I’m just not super clear on why it exists.

In this hour-long show, writers Ryan Gladstone, Katherine Sanders, and Bruce Horak imagine what Jesus might have been up to between the ages of 13 and 30, during which time he disappears from the historical record. In their telling, Jesus is traumatized when he finds out that Joseph isn’t his biological father and sets off in search of his “real dad”. [Read more…]

Reverberations: intermittent seismic activity

Reverberations, a site-specific work by Brian Linds, is playing at Presentation House.

In Reverberations, Brian Linds explores his family history.

One of the sections in Reverberations, an installation/performance piece by Brian Linds, knocked me out.

In Reverberations, Linds, who has worked primarily as a sound designer for the past several years, explores his family history through five pieces that are all set up in their own spaces in Presentation House. Every unit has a significant sound component. Groups of up to 20 audience members each start in different rooms and move from space to space. [Read more…]

Jesus Freak (or Atheists are Assholes)

Pacific Theatre is presenting Peter Boychuk's Jesus Freak.

Pay particular attention to these two: Katharine Venour and Kaitlin Williams in Jesus Freak. (Photo by Jailin Laine Photography)

There are several plays going on at once in Jesus Freak. One of them is good.

In the story, a liberal family gathers for Easter weekend in their getaway home on one of the Gulf Islands. Susan and Alan’s adult daughter Clara, who is pursuing post-graduate studies in political science in Montreal, comes out as Christian. All hell breaks loose. [Read more…]

The Good Bride: not so good

Solid performance. Delightful set. (Photo of Carolyn Rapansos’s design and Marissa Emma Smith in character by Wendy D Photography)

I took little naps in the blackouts between scenes: when the lights went down, so did my eyelids. That’s because sweet nothing happens for at least the first 85 minutes of The Good Bride’s 100-minute runtime. And I’m not just talking about the dearth of plot; there is no significant accumulation of anything. [Read more…]

The Shoplifters: return it

The Arts Club is producing Morris Panych's new play The Shoplifters.

Patti Allan gives you something to watch in The Shoplifters (Photo by David Cooper)

Morris Panych’s The Shoplifters is so slight that it almost doesn’t exist—although it does contain the beginning of an idea. That idea is about the injustice of capitalism.

Dom, a zealous security guard who’s training in a Superstore kind of place, apprehends a savvy old crook named Alma, who has a choice cut of steak shoved up her skirt. He has also caught Alma’s younger pal Phyllis shoplifting and he’s feeling pretty proud of himself. But Otto, the guard who’s training Dom, takes a larger view: he encourages Dom to ask himself, “Who are the real thieves?” [Read more…]

The Amish Project—without the Amish

Dark Glass Theatre is presenting Jessica Dickey's The Amish Project at The Nest.

Kelsey Krogman plays Carol in The Amish Project.

The Amish Project is a sentimental fictionalization of a tragedy.

In 2006, a shooter entered a school in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He held ten girls hostage and shot eight of them, killing five. The Amish responded with forgiveness, reaching out to the shooter’s wife and three children and establishing a charitable fund for the family.

That’s powerful source material, but playwright Jessica Dickey fails to do it justice.

According to director Angela Konrad’s program notes, Dickey didn’t interview any of the people directly affected by the Nickel Mines shooting. That’s too bad because, if she had, she might have created a more resonant script.

Instead, Dickey contents herself with superficial poetics. The play’s actors repeat the headline “Man enters Amish schoolhouse and opens fire” so often that it quickly moves from being heavy-handed to being tedious. In an effort to present innocence, Dickey has a young character named Velda mime drawing endless stick figures. And Velda’s older sister Anna floats about as a ghost—like a refugee from Our Town— tenderly observing her parents and community.

None of this lands. None of it has the ring of harsh truth or genuine beauty. It’s just made up. [Read more…]

Revisor: conceptually seductive, emotionally not so much

Kidd Pivot is presenting Revisor at the Vancouver Playhouse.

The guy is on fire: Doug Letheren as the Deputy. (Photo by Michael Slobodian. Costume by Nancy Bryant)

 

 

 

I was dazzled by the skill, intellectually intrigued, and emotionally and viscerally removed.

With Revisor, writer Jonathon Young and choreographer Crystal Pite sink deep into Nikolai Gogol’s play, which is best known as The Inspector General.

Gogol’s 1842 script was inspired by a Russian story that might be true. When the Deputy (or Mayor) of a small town gets a tip that a government inspector is about to arrive incognito, the Deputy and his fellow officials madly scramble to cover up their corruption and misdeeds. When the bureaucrats mistake a minor civil servant for the inspector, the clerk recognizes their error, happily accepts their bribes—and plots to expose them.

Revisor employs two main stylistic modes. In the first, the performers lip sync to recordings of actors speaking Young’s dialogue, while embodying the characters with extreme expressionistic movement. It’s kind of like a drag version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. [Read more…]

Yoga Play: steady that pose

The Gateway Theatre is presenting Dipika Guha's Yoga Play.

Christine Quintana and Chirag Naik in Yoga Play (Photo: Gateway Theatre)

 

If only it had a middle. Yoga Play has an enticing beginning and a meaningful conclusion. But, in between, it gets lost in low-stakes plotting.

In Yoga Play, American writer Dipika Guha takes aim at the commercialization of an ancient ascetic practice. Think Lululemon, that’s what Guha does: she invents a Lululemon-like company called Jojomon and, right off the top, she tosses in a reference to Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, who tried to say that some of his company’s yoga pants became transparent only because the thighs of the women wearing them were too big.

The large and small details of Guha’s writing are effervescent in their inventiveness. A guy named John, who owns Jojomon, calls his dog Sappho. And Jojomon has just come out with a new fabric that features the slow release of organic lavender—and was inspired by Marie Kondo. [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!