The Mountaintop: thrilling peaks (and some valleys)

publicity still for The Mountaintop

Kwesi Ameyaw and Shayna Jones (Photo by Moonrider Productions)

For me, the doorway to this production didn’t open until about halfway through. At that point, it became transcendent — intermittently. By the end, I was moved.

In Katori Hall’s 2009 script, she imagines Martin Luther King Jr. in his motel room on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. The moment a maid named Camae arrives bearing the coffee King has ordered, you know she is no ordinary worker: there’s a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder, and the lights in the room flicker. Sure, there’s a storm outside, but we’re in the theatre and cues like this are not accidental. [Read more…]

How the World Began — and how it stalled

Publicity photo for How the World Began

Here’s a young actor to watch: Even Rein.
Meghan Gardiner is in the foreground.
(Photo by Diamond’s Edge Photography)

It’s kind of like a horror movie with an obvious out — like “Why don’t they just call the cops?”

In her 2011 script How the World Began, Catherine Trieschmann sets up an artificial conflict between the scientific and the religious. Susan has recently arrived in Plainview, Kansas, to teach biochemistry at the local high school. At first, she claims that her reasons for coming are altruistic: she wants to help out because a tornado has recently leveled the town and left 17 dead. But it soon emerges that she’s also there for more pressing practical reasons: she’s about to become a single mom, and this job offers both quick teaching certification and health insurance.

Coming from New York, though, Susan is politically and culturally blue — and Plainview is not. [Read more…]

Wakey, Wakey: There’s a call for you

Publicity photo for Wakey, Wakey.

Actor Craig Erickson in front of a video by Wladimiro A. Woyno R. (Photo by Chelsey Stuyt Photography)

I’ve never been more alert to shimmering life than in the weeks preceding my friend Len’s assisted death. Presence was the gift of their passing.

That’s also the substance of Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey, which is seamlessly well realized in Pacific Theatre’s production. [Read more…]

Gather: Stories in Nature — room to grow

publicity photo for Gather: Stories in Nature

Sharing stories outside is a good idea.
(Photo of Shayna Jones and Cameron Peal by Kathryn Nickford)

Maybe the best way to see these two short scripts is as seedlings.

In Gather: Stories in Nature, Shayna Jones and Cameron Peal both perform solo plays they’ve written about their relationships to the earth. In a (mostly) productive decision, their work is being presented beneath the trees in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Jones’s work is currently the sturdier of the two. It’s about a woman named Miriam who’s struggling in an oppressive marriage to a guy named Clinton. Early on, Clinton complains that Miriam is getting too independent: “That’s what I get for letting you discover yourself.” [Read more…]

Best of Enemies: worth befriending

Pacific Theatre is presenting Best of Enemies.

There’s stillness in Celia Aloma’s performance. Don’t let that lull you. (Photo by Diamond’s Edge Photography)

Best of Enemies is a familiar and predictable story of a white man’s redemption, but it still matters — a great deal. And it’s true. [Read more…]

Gramma: this 75 minutes could age you

Pacific Theatre is presenting Maki Yi's play Gramma.

(Photo of Maki Yi by Emily Cooper)

Playwright and solo performer Maki Yi means well with Gramma and it starts off promisingly, but it quickly becomes very boring. [Read more…]

Frankenstein, Lost in Darkness: waiting to be found at Pacific Theatre

Pacific Theatre is presenting Frankenstein as a radio play.

Tariq Leslie as Frankenstein’s creature. 

Taking in Frankenstein: Lost in Darkness is very much like sitting around a fire on a winter evening and listening to a storyteller who is very good — if a little long-winded. [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…]

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 Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe—and some very good acting

Pacific Theatre is presenting Ron Reed's adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Pacific Theatre.

John Both and Rebecca DeBoer in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lighting by John Webber. (Photo by Ron Reed)

When you watch an actor transform from one character to another, it’s like watching an excellent magic trick. It’s alchemical: they were one thing and now they’re another. And there are many such transformations in Pacific Theatre’s skilled, innocent production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. [Read more…]

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