Select Page

Men Express Their Feelings — for your delight and edification

by | Mar 20, 2022 | Review | 0 comments

publicity photo for Men Express Their Feelings

Munish Sharma, Ishan Sandhu, and Quinn Churchill in a replay (Photo by Tina Krueger Kulic)

I’m having an identity crisis. If Vancouver companies don’t stop producing such good shows, I’m going to lose my reputation for being a hard ass.

Zee Zee Theatre’s production of Sunny Drake’s Men Express Their Feelings is a terrific ride.

It’s about two father/son pairs. The high-school-aged boys are on the same hockey team but, after one of their games, Mr. Bacon punched Mr. Sharma in the nose. That led to Ms. Skinner, who has some kind of authority in the league, laying down the law: either all four of them participate in a sharing circle — in their home arena’s locker room — or the boys won’t be back on the ice in time for the following week’s game (and a big scout from the majors is coming to that).

Drake’s comedy has the freewheeling energy of farce. Mr. Bacon gives everybody a lesson in how to hug like a man: allow minimal frontal body contact and keep your junk as far as possible from the other guy’s. And Drake structures Men Express Their Feelings like a hockey game, complete with three periods and, best of all, replays. So we get flashbacks of an erotically tinged encounter between the two boys — both the innocence of the real thing and the full-on, faggy musical extravaganza one of the dads imagines.

The dialogue is witty. When Mr. Bacon insists that men don’t comfort one another — that’s that what wives are for — his son Brad mutters, “My mom is, like, pretty busy.”

The obvious comic target here is, of course, the grown-up white guy, Mr. Bacon — and he’s the first to get the Breakfast Club treatment. But the script is compassionate — and it’s compassion for Mr. Bacon that produces some of the evening’s most moving moments.

Besides, everybody’s got growing to do. Mr. Bacon and Mr. Sharma both understand the well of dread and shame that many men skirt because “If you go down there, you never come back.”

All four males are forced to confront the weird norms of hockey, including the on-ice “chirping” that includes racist phrases none of them can utter off the ice.

And, refreshingly, the boys’ exploration of their sexuality isn’t reduced to the simplistic terms of coming-out stories that have been de rigueur for so long.

This cast is great. Quinn Churchill, who’s playing Brad, is still in school at Studio 58, but he tackles this show with the confidence and charisma of a young Tom Cruise. It’s astonishing. Ishan Sandhu, who’s playing Raj Sharma, is also a young actor with major chops. Jeff Gladstone (Mr. Bacon) is a pro, so it’s hardly a surprise — but it’s still rewarding — that he nails every comic note and breaks your heart when he needs to. And I loved Munish Sharma’s Mr. Sharma. He commits to Mr. Sharma’s punctiliousness, which is particularly hilarious in the locker-room context: “I’ll explain the many forms of mansplaining.” And he never loses track of Mr. Sharma’s emotional core.

Director Cameron Mackenzie has not only chosen a great script, cast well, and supported these performances, he has also set a rhythm that the actors ride like members of a four-man bobsled team. Watching them, I kept thinking, “They are having a such a good time!”

Kimira Reddy’s set is so realistic you can almost smell it.

Sara Vickruck’s detailed sound design and Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg’s choreography collude to make the replays sizzle. Weirdly, the fight scenes don’t work at all — but that’s not a major deal in the big scheme of things.

If you want a smart but unpretentious and socially redeeming romp, this one’s for you.

MEN EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS By Sunny Drake. Directed by Cameron Mackenzie. A Zee Zee Theatre production at the Firehall Arts Centre on on Saturday, March 19.  Continues until April 3. ASL interpreted performance on March 24. Relaxed matinee performance on March 26. Tickets


NEVER MISS A REVIEW: Sign up for FRESH SHEET, my weekly e-letter about the arts. 

And, if you want to help to keep independent arts criticism alive in Vancouver, check out my Patreon page.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Freshsheet Reviews logo reversed

Subscribe Free!

Sign up for the FRESH SHEET newsletter and get curated local, national, and international arts coverage — all sorts of arts — every week.


Drop a line to


FRESH SHEET, the reviews and FRESH SHEET, the newsletter are available free. But writing them is a full-time job and arts criticism is in peril. Please support FRESH SHEET by sending an e-transfer to or by becoming a patron on Patreon.

Copyright ©2024 Colin Thomas. All rights reserved.