Beneath Springhill: excellent performance, dull material

publicity photo for Beneath Springhill, Arts Club Theatre

Jeremiah Sparks is terrific in Beneath Springhill,
but the material doesn’t support him.(Photo by Moonrider Productions)

When does a pile have no depth? When it’s a pile of clichés.

I can understand why programming Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story might have looked like a good idea. This solo musical is based on the real-life experience of Maurice Ruddick, a Black Canadian miner who was trapped underground for nine days in a mining disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1958. Apparently, his singing helped to keep a small group of fellow survivors alive.

With Covid and climate change, the world is going to hell, so I can understand why the Arts Club’s artistic director Ashlie Corcoran would be attracted to a story of endurance and triumph. And, given the uncertainties of the pandemic and the financial hit that theatres have taken, it makes sense to program a one-person show.

But there are no ideas in Beneath Springhill and there’s virtually no dramatic tension. [Read more…]

Someone Like You: Cyrano de Bergerac but more on the nose

Politically, Christine Quintana’s new audio play Someone Like You is busy: it takes on fat phobia, racism, misogyny, and the capitalist commodification of human longing. That’s a worthy line-up of targets. Too worthy, as it turns out. Thematically, Someone Like You becomes a checklist — and it goes on for more than two hours. [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…]

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!