Zastrozzi: the play is not the thing, the production is

Star & Moon Productions is presenting Georg F. Walker's Zastrozzi at the Vancity Culture Lab.

The production — including Birkett Turton’s seamless performance as Zastrozzi — is more appealing than the script.

Zastrozzi: The Master of Discipline is like a dream of cool masculinity — as conjured by a deeply reactionary 14-year-old straight boy. [Read more…]

Jerusalem: England’s green chaotic land

United Players is presenting Jerusalem by Jem Butterworth at the Jericho Arts Centre.

Rooster (Adam Henderson) and Professor (Jack Rigg) get their bacchanal on. (Photo by Nancy Caldwell)

In 2011 in a forest glade somewhere in Wiltshire, England, lives Johnny “Rooster” Byron in a trailer surrounded by trash. A middle-aged waster, he hosts alcohol- and drug-laced parties for the local teenagers. There’s a new housing estate nearby and the town council wants him evicted. But Rooster is part of a mystical English lineage. He is a Green Man, a nature god, the embodiment of rejuvenating vitality and chaos. “I’ve seen oak trees cry,” he says. “I’ve heard beeches sing hymns.” Two of the girls in his pack are named Tanya and Pea, evoking Titania and Peasblossom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Frustrated with the hypocritical townsfolk who want him gone, Rooster rails, “What the hell do you think an English forest is for?”

Jez Butterworth’s script is hilariously freewheeling and sometimes thrilling. And director Kathleen Duborg’s mostly amateur production for United Players is astonishingly well realized. [Read more…]

Chicken Girl: clucking obscure, clucking intriguing

Derek Chan's Chicken Girl is playing at The Annex.

B.C. Lee and Amanda Sum are SUCH pros. (Photo by Emily Cooper)

Playwright Derek Chan speaks a private artistic language. It’s frustrating, but I like the way it sounds.   [Read more…]

A Steady Rain: drenched in noir

Seven Tyrants Theatre is presenting A Steady Rain.

Daniel Deorksen and David Newham loom large in A Steady Rain.

> > >This is a guest review by David Johnston

If you stabbed A Steady Rain in the jugular, it would bleed cigarette smoke and malt whiskey.

Seven Tyrants Theatre is closing their season with a week-long remount of last year’s detective thriller duet. Keith Huff’s script is a 90-minute injection of pure noir. The hard, unadulterated stuff.

Are there streets? Are they mean? Are they rain-slicked and gleaming like the dying hopes at the bottom of a shot glass?

Reader, you need not ask. [Read more…]

Matilda the Musical survives its director

The Arts Club is presenting Matilda the Musical at the Stanley.

This girl, Thailey Roberge, is one of the best reasons to see Matilda at the Arts Clubs. There are also reasons not to. (Photo by David Cooper)

Matilda the Musical survives Daryl Cloran’s direction, even though he makes a good stab at bludgeoning it to death. [Read more…]

Other Inland Empires: surfing in shallow water

Julie Hammond's Other Inland Empires is at the rEvolver Festival

It’s hard to care about an earring and a tooth — even if they’re embodied by women wearing goggles — if you haven’t had a chance to get to know them. (Photo by Tim Matheson)

Formally innovative, Other Inland Empires also looks like it’s also going to be theatrically and thematically rewarding — at first.

Writer and director Julie Hammond presents three characters: she has written herself into the piece as a narrator; her grandmother, who survived the Holocaust, is present as a recorded voice; and Gidget from the surfing movies shows up both in readings from one of the Gidget books and as an actor who does some onstage surfing. [Read more…]

Lady Parts: I like ’em

After Party Theatre is presenting Lady Parts as part of the rEvolver Festival.

Are you interested in pubic hairstyles? Of course you are. Who isn’t? (Photo of Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley by Mark Halliday)

Lady Parts is a feminist revue that includes sketch comedy, personal testimony, and a whole lot of political fuck-you-ness.

It’s hilarious, it’s necessary, and it’s so welcome. [Read more…]

The Cake: bittersweet, delicious

Pacific Theatre is presenting The Cake.

Erla Faye Forsyth is one of the best actors in Vancouver. Whether or not you already know that, go see her in The Cake. (Photo by Javier Sotres)

I’m so grateful.

Pacific Theatre’s production of The Cake is coming at the right time — at the necessary time. With Alabama’s virtual ban on abortion just the latest in states’ restrictions of female autonomy, the Trump administration’s assault on LGBTQ rights, and the pursuit of similar agendas by Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta, it’s frighteningly clear just how hostile populist conservatism is to anything other than cis white hetero male supremacy.

That’s why I’m so grateful for the tenderness of The Cake— not to mention its wit. [Read more…]

The Fitting Room: the pieces don’t fit

Collectivus Theatre is presenting The Fitting Room at the Havana Theatre.

Kelly Vanderswan as Amy, the mom, and Ciaran Volke as Henry in Ellery Lamm’s The Fitting Room. (Photo by Victoria Simpson)

Ellery Lamm, who wrote The Fitting Room, shows promise as a playwright, but that promise hasn’t ripened yet. [Read more…]

Nassim is a retread

Nassim Soleimanpour's new show Nassim is playing The Cultch in Vancouver.

In Nassim, Nassim Soleimanpour reuses his mystery-script device. (Photo of the playwright by Studio Doug)

Nassim feels like an endless set-up for an experience that barely arrives. [Read more…]

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