Mx: a mixed review from me

publicity photo for Mx at The Cultch

Lili Robinson wrote and stars in Mx. (Photo by Christache Ross)

I’m a white guy reviewing a show about mixed-race identity, specifically the reclamation of Black identity. The lack of diversity in criticism is a serious problem and I’ve been trying to find ways to address it, but I lack resources. I’ve recently had a conversation with a colleague who’s better at accessing money than I am. I hope something comes of that.

For now, I’m going to review Mx because The Cultch asked me to and because I hope that something I say might be helpful. Fair warning: I’m going to approach this more as a technician than as a member of Mx‘s target audience.

Within that context, there are all sorts of cool — and, for me, moving — things about this remount of Mx. I first saw it when it was presented at the Fringe in 2019. It won the Cultchivating the Fringe Award that year, a prize that offers further development and a remount.

Mx has come back stronger. [Read more…]

The Cave: Enter quickly (only two more shows left)

production photo from The Cave

Screen grab of Derek Kwan as Fox.

John Millard’s music for The Cave is glorious. And who couldn’t use some gloriousness these days?

The Cave is a musical cabaret with characters and a narrative. Pursued by fire, the animals of the forest are running for their lives. They take refuge in Bear’s cave, where they tell stories, struggle to breathe, and await their fate.

This both is and isn’t as heavy as it sounds. The Cave is almost ecstatically entertaining. [Read more…]

Little Volcano: plate tectonics

Veda Hille, Little Volcano, The Cultch

The power of counterpoint: Veda Hille in Little Volcano (Photo by Emily Cooper)

All alone in my living room, I applauded.

These are lonely times and getting to watch the livestream of Veda Hille’s Little Volcano for 90 minutes is like having the most fascinating person over for the most intimate of conversations. [Read more…]

Transform Cabaret Festival Opening Night Bash: Revolutionary. Joy.

#UrbanInk, #TheCultch, #TransformCabaretFestival

Drag artist Le Gateau Chocolat sent a performance from London Thursday night.

Last night’s Opening Night Bash at the Transform Cabaret Festival was … transformative for me. Moreso than last year’s.

I don’t think that’s because this year’s edition was artistically “better”, whatever that means; I think it’s because the overwhelming awfulness of our global crises allowed me to appreciate more fully the power of celebration as resistance. [Read more…]

Forget Me Not: Forget the script, remember the rest

The Cultch is presenting Ronnie Burkett's Forgeet Me Not.

In Forget Me Not, much of the beauty is in the physical craft. (Photo by Dahlia Katz)

Ronnie Burkett is a phenomenal performer. The puppets that he and his team creates are works of art. And he needs a whole lot more help with storytelling than he’s getting. [Read more…]

Unikkaaqtuat: a gift from the North

The Cultch and DanceHouse are presenting Unkkaaqtuat at the Vancouver Playhouse.

This raft doesn’t always stay afloat. (Photo by Alexandre Galliez)

Unikkaaqtuat, which is billed as a circus, is a sincere and generous gift from the rich traditions of several northern peoples. From my southern settler perspective, some of the show is gorgeous and some of it is boring. [Read more…]

Infinity: actually 90 (very mixed) minutes

Infinity by Hannah Moscovitch is at The Cultch

Annoyingly, this isn’t a production photo, but it does show you Amy Rutherford and Jonathon Young.
(Photo by Dhalia Katz)

Two of the three characters in Infinity claim that they can hear time. I listened very closely, but I couldn’t hear the play’s heartbeat. Hannah Moscovitch’s script is emotionally alienating and its ambitious themes are underdeveloped. But I enjoyed it — because the character voices are fantastic and, under Ross Manson’s direction, this production is exquisitely tailored. [Read more…]

East Van Panto: Pinocchio (gets his strings twisted)

Everything about this image is great: Amanda Sum as Jiminy Pattison in a costume by Barbara Clayden
(Photo by Emily Cooper)

If Pinocchio was my first East Van Panto, I’d be writing a different review. But I’ve seen all seven and some — especially Little Red Riding Hood (2016) and The Wizard of Oz (last year) — have been so much better that, although Pinocchio is a good show in some ways, it’s also a disappointment. [Read more…]

The Father: a mother of a production

The characters in The Father struggle for coherence. (Photo of Jillian Fargey and Kevin McNulty by Tim Matheson)

My smart, charismatic mom, who had always feared dementia, sank deeper and deeper into it for the last six years of her life. She’s gone. And now I fear dementia. So, when I was keeping notes as I watched The Father and I thought, “Fuck! Did I get that character’s name right? Am I going to be able to follow this?”, I felt panic.

I think that’s pretty much what playwright Florian Zeller intended. [Read more…]

Kuroko: All dressed up

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre is presenting Tetsuro Shigematsu's Kuroko at The Cultch.

The weapons are virtual. Is the relationship real? (Photo of Kanon Hewitt and Lou Ticzon by Chris Randle)

Sure, Kim Kardashian wears great clothes, but does she have a soul? There’s a similar problem — although it’s not nearly as severe or creepy — with Kuroko: the production is stunning but, narratively and emotionally, Tetsuro Shigematsu’s script is perfunctory. [Read more…]

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