January 2011

Giovanni Mocibob as Asher. Photo by Tim Matheson.My Name is Asher Lev
Adapted by Aaron Posner from the novel by Chaim Potok.
A Pacific Theatre production
Pacific Theatre,
Jan 38 to Feb 26, 2011

Vancouver, BC: Pacific Theatre has done it again, giving us another little gem of a play.  Adapted by Aaron Posner from the eponymous novel by Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev portrays a gifted young artist who is compelled to follow his creative passion even though it ultimately means exile from his family and the community in which he grew up.

The cast of three, directed with a nuanced sensitivity by Morris Ertman, features Giovanni Mocibob as Asher,  while Nathan Schmidt and Katharine Venour play several male and female characters. Schmidt plays Asher's father Aryeh Lev, Asher's artistic mentor and teacher Jacob Kahn, Asher's uncle Yaakov and The Rebbe, leader of the Hassidic Community.  Venour plays Asher's mother Rivkeh,  Anna the art gallery owner  who shows Jacob's and Asher's work, and a artist's model.

Hugh Hughes. Photo by Jamie Gramston.Floating
Created and Performed by Hugh Hughes and Sioned Rowlands
A Hoipolloi production at the PuSh Festival
Arts Club Theatre Revue Stage
January 20 to Feb 5, 2011

Vancouver, BC: I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Shôn Dale-Jones first "met" emerging Welsh artist Hugh Hughes. Quick witted, charming, engaging storyteller - the dialogue must have been scintillating. But since it would have been more telepathic than aural, probably even the fly could not have tuned in to witness the birth of their first show, Floating.

ASioned Rowlands. Photo by Jamie Gramstonnyway it is the amiable Hugh Hughes, Dale-Jones' alter ego,  who comes forward to greet the audience and introduce his grandmother, played by the winsome Sioned Rowlands. Rowlands also appears as other characters, such as  the crusty  Mr. Morgan, and Hugh's friend.

C.E. Gatchalian: happy with the reading

Earlier this month I went to a reading of a work-in-progress at the Playhouse Recital Hall. The Laurette Play by Vancouver playwright  C.E. Gatchalian, is about Laurette Taylor, a Broadway stage actor who was renowned for having originated the role of Amanda in Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie. Gatchalian was inspired to write this play by the fact that few people remember or have even heard of Laurette Taylor, and yet in her day she was legendary. Her work inspired  actors, such as Uta Hagen, who in turn became legendary performers and teachers of the next generation of theatre artists.

My first encounter with the work of  Gatchalian, was in 2004 when my daughter, Amanda Lockitch played Lucy, the mother of Kieran, played by Ryan Beil in Gatchalian's play Crossing. Written as his thesis project for his M.F.A. in creative writing at UBC,  Crossing is an unrelentingly dark piece about a sexually-troubled relationship between mother and son. 

Allan Morgan, Glynis Leyshon, Nicola Cavendish share smiles before the readingThis production, directed by Sean Cummings, became the founding production of Meta.for Theatre Company, with Cummings, Lockitch and Melissa Powell as Co-artistic directors.  Meta.for Theatre later produced Broken, an evening of other one-act plays by Gatchalian.

Crossing has just been published. The book launch, and a celebration of Tennessee Williams' 100th Birthday, will take place February 26th at Rhizome Cafe. More information later.

The Laurette Play reading was directed by Glynis Leyshon. As Gatchalian describes the script, it is the story of "how Laurette Taylor attempts to reignite the creativity of a frustrated, alcoholic, once-great playwright, unleashing memories and thoughts on the nature of theatre, art, creativity and immortality."

Nicola Cavendish and Allan Morgan read multiple parts, playing characters including  the playwright, his parents, and of course Laurette or her ghost.

Siegel's Bagels on Urbanspoon

the smoked beef

A group of us planned to see the film, Barney's Version, at the Fifth Avenue Cinema. To get with the Montreal mood, we planned to indulge in Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches  and for downtown denizens, what better than a Smoked Meat sandwich at Siegel's Bagels at the Granville Island Market?

We walked down to the ferry terminal at David Lam Park and waited to see which ferry would come along first. Aquabus beat out the False Creek ferry this time so we hopped on board and within minutes were hopping off at Granville Island.

Front: Claire Hesselgrave Back L-R: Sarah Goodwill, Andrew Cohen, Joanna Williams, David Kaye. Photo by Tim MathesonDead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Chris McGregor,
Telus Studio Theatre
A Theatre at UBC production
January 20 to 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Vancouver, BC: What a clever concept for a play - answering a dead man's cell phone and getting drawn into his world. Let's face it - who does not get annoyed when a loudly ringing cell phone disturbs your quiet meal? And if the jerk who owns the phone just lets it ring , and ring, and ring? Well it's enough to make you go ballistic.

celeriac and fennel soupChambar Restaurant
562 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
 Ph: 604- 879-7119 or Reserve Online
Chambar on Urbanspoon
We were going to see the opening night performance of This at the Vancouver Playhouse so we strolled a couple of blocks over to Chambar for a pre-show dinner.

My companion had the celeriac and fennel soup, with cave aged Gruyére, chervil and a grilled crouton. He declared it to be absolutely delicious and when I was offered a spoonful, I had to agree - creamy and bursting with flavour.

Todd Thomson, Megan Follows, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Fabrice Grover and Karen Holness. Photo by David CooperThis by Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Amiel Gladstone
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company
Vancouver Playhouse
January 8-29, 2011

Vancouver, BC:  Under the able direction of Amiel Gladstone, with a luminous Megan Follows leading an accomplished cast of actors, Melissa James Gibson's  This sparkles with humour while touching on the internal angsts and troubled relationships of this group of thirty-something friends.

 Jane (Megan Follows), published poet, teacher and mother, is raising her child alone, after the death of her husband a year earlier. She is visiting her friends Marrell (Karen Holness) and Tom (Todd Thomson), the exhausted parents of an infant who only "sleeps in 15 minute increments".

Lobster and truffle grilled cheeseOne Hundred Days at the OPUS Hotel
350 Davie Street,
Phone: 604-642-0557 or Reserve Online

It was the last evening before my visitors were leaving - a 7 am flight ! So an early supper was called for.  I had the One Hundred Days restaurant on my "to visit" list since I first read about the concept.  Basically the restaurant at the OPUS Hotel is undergoing a redesign and remodeling under different management. The idea was that over 100 days, local graffiti artist Vince Dumoulin  would paint murals while the chefs would serve up equally creative dishes. But since it was a couple of months ago that I read about I figured the 100 days must be up and thought I had missed out. Not so.

A quick search on line however indicated that One Hundred Days was still going - and indeed when we got there, our server Fraser told us that they were actually up to 106 days. They would be  remaining open until Dine Out Vancouver was over and then the push for the new restaurant would be on.

Perfect hangout for a couch-potatoWhen is sympathy the wrong approach? When you are talking to a perfectionistic procrastinator with ongoing leg pain in winter. When it hurts to sit and stand, and its cold and wet outside, it's so comforting to curl up under a cosy blanket and escape into a well-told tale, whether a novel or a television series. And when your own words emerge in jerky clumps, as if your thoughts are crashing against successive barriers erected by electric flashes of pain - well it's too easy to say "I'll write better when I feel better", and open a new novel on my E-Reader.

In the past 12 weeks I have read 30 novels on my IPad or my E-Reader, 10 paperback novels, much of 4 non-fiction books, watched three British and several seasons of three US television series, and slowly worked my way through a well designed course on Bridge, around eighty cryptic crosswords and innumerable "brain training" games. But my Dance Cruise narrative is still stalled in Bar Harbor, and only 12 stories have made it to publication on ReviewFromTheHouse.

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