Shit: strong performances emerge from a distancing script

Increasingly, Sharon Crandall, who plays Bob in Shit, is making her presence felt as a dramatic actor. 

For a script with such an earthy title, Shit is oddly abstract.

In Shit, Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius presents us with three incarcerated women. Billy, Bob, and Sam have all grown up in foster care and they have all been brutalized sexually, emotionally, and physically. They have also committed a serious crime together, which is why they’re in jail: exactly what they’ve done becomes clearer as the play unfolds. “Do you think someone’s going to save us?” Sam asks. “We’re way past saving,” Billy replies.

Cornelius has constructed her text musically. It begins with an overture of fucks. All three women spew the expletive as if they’re gleefully shooting bullets at machine-gun pace. They compete to see if anyone can get through a sentence without saying “fuck”. They criticize one another’s facility: “You’re not usin’ it well.” And they revel in the energy of fuck and cunt: “The life in them words!” [Read more…]

Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth: How much fresh light does this revered play shine?

The Firehall Arts Centre is producing Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth

Janice (Chelsea Rose Tucker) and Barb (Ashley Chartrand) ‘working their differences out’. (Photo by Emily Cooper)

This is a guest review from Deneh’Cho Thompson.

The Firehall Arts Centre first brought Drew Hayden Taylor’s Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth to Vancouver in 1997, and now it’s back.

Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth follows a pair of sisters as they grapple with the death of their mother. The difficulty: they were separated as children during the Sixties Scoop, a period in which governmental organizations stole thousands of aboriginal children from their families and placed them in the foster care system. The effects of these forced adoptions are still playing out across Canada. [Read more…]

The acting in Happy Place is stronger than the script

Pamela Mala Sinha's script for Happy Place is receiving an excellent production at the Firehall Arts Centre.

In Happy Place, the psychiatric patients are discouraged from asking one another questions. Instead, they play imaginative games with rocks. (Photo by Tim Matheson)

The storytelling in Happy Place could be more focused and compelling, but some of the play’s content pierces to the heart of the current cultural moment and the cast is stellar.

In Happy Place, playwright Pamela Mala Sinha takes us to an upscale inpatient treatment centre for women who have attempted suicide. Samira has just arrived. She knows that she was raped and tortured five years earlier, but she can’t remember the event in enough detail to identify and accuse her attacker. “I want to cut it out of my head. What I can’t remember,” she says. [Read more…]

In Mamahood, Nicolle Nattrass doesn’t go deep enough to become Everymama

Nicolle Nattress's Mamahood is too generic to have much impact.

This is the only image I can find for “Mamahood: turn and face the strange”. So sue me; I’m a blogger.

I’m finding it impossible not to damn Mamahood with faint praise. There’s nothing really wrong with this show, but there’s nothing arrestingly right about it either.

In her solo work, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, writer and performer Nicolle Nattrass tells us about her first and only pregnancy—she conceived on the eve of her fortieth birthday—the delivery of her son, and her postpartum depression.

Nattrass is a warmly personable performer and some of her material is witty: in a section about a baby fair, I’m pretty sure I caught a reference to tot pole dancing. And Nattrass is willing to poke fun at herself: she admits that, when her baby was unable to sleep deeply for months on end, she and her husband engaged the services of “a medical intuitive lady who sends energy long distance.” [Read more…]

A motherfucker of a show

The Motherfucker with the Hat

Stephen Lobo and Francisco Trujillo are members of a stellar team in The Motherfucker with the Hat.

My pick this week is The Motherfucker with the Hat, which is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre until Saturday, January 30.

Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis delights in language, even as he uses fuck and shit as casually as most people use commas. And his exploration of addiction and recovery is complex.

The performances in this production are stellar. Kyra Zagorsky and Stephen Lobo will break your heart. John Cassini will lead you down a very dark rabbit hole.