Guest review

RACE
By David Mamet
Directed by David Mackay
Mitch and Murray Productions
Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver
Running until December 1st, Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm.

Guest Review by Jo Ledingham

Vancouver, BC. This production of David Mamet’s Race (which premiered on Broadway in 2009) will have you leaping out of the starting blocks and sprinting all the way to the finish line. Directed by David Mackay, it’s all over in seventy minutes. It’s a potent, profanity-studded exposé of racism and misogyny so interlocked as to be inseparable.

It’s also an interesting bookend to Mamet’s Romance produced last fall at the Fringe. In Romance, the playwright slags lawyers and the legal system in a searing but exceedingly entertaining way: a judge who’s so medicated he can’t stay awake, lawyers who exchange racial and religious slurs and a client who may or may not be guilty of whatever the charge is – but who cares? That’s not the point.

Guest Review by Danielle Benzon

Far Side of the Moon 
Written and Directed by Robert LePage
Performed by Yves Jacques until Nov 4, Lepage from Nov 6 to 10, 2012
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards

Far Side of the Moon is a story about vanity, narcissism, family ties and, inevitably, space exploration. The Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts provides the perfect setting for this piece. Although still highly technically creative as is the trademark of an Ex Machina production, Far Side of the Moon has an existentialist sparseness to it that effortlessly evokes the loneliness of space and of the human condition.

Itai Erdal tells How To Disappear Completely

How To Disappear Completely
Starring Itai Erdal
Written by Itai Erdal in collaboration with James Long, Anita Rochon & Emelia Symington Fedy
Directed by James Long
At the Wosk 2nd Stage, JCCGV
February 17 - 27, 2011

Guest review by Sean Cummings

Vancover, BC:

To say How To Disappear Completely is theatre is correct.  It is definitely theatrical.  But the narrator is not a character in a play. Rather he spends his time telling the audience an intensely personal story about his journey back home to his native Israel to be with his mother for the final months of her life. 

What could have been a self-centered spiral into the depths of grief turned out to be a well executed story whose artistic achievement is to seemingly place the audience smack dab in the middle of the narrator's experience. 

Valerie Mason-John

Rachel Scott: Guest Reviewer

Brown Girl in the Ring
Performer/Playwright: Valerie Mason-John
Director: Linette Smith
Presented by Queenie Productions
at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Guest review by Rachel Scott

I love the idea of this play: what happens with the black baby descendent of the royal British family suddenly crops up? Inspired by the African-German queen who married George III and the rumors of a black baby offspring to Louis XIV, “Brown Girl in the Ring” has all the makings of a wild ride and hilarious satire.

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Page

SPINE, by Kevin Kerr
Directed by Bob Frazer
A Realwheels and University of Alberta co-production
Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodwards
March 10 to 20, 2010

Spine originated as a follow-up to Skydive, seen two years ago.   James Sanders, wheelchair-bound, sought another part;  Kevin Kerr would write again and Bob Frazer would switch from actor to director.   Twelve members of the University of Alberta graduating acting class would take part.   No less than 34 more are credited with 'production,' from 'dialect coach' to 'audio supervisor.'   Cultural Olympiad money came in.  

Kerr and Frazer, as they record in the program, look for inspiration to Prometheus, Frankenstein, Cyrano de Bergerac and Midsummer Night's Dream!   Kerr demonstrated what he could do with conventional theatre in 'Unity, 1918' ;  here he writes an intelligent collection of fragments.

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Page

Andrew Laurenson, Nneka Croal, Tanya Podlozniuk, Michael Rinaldi, Young-Hee Kim: Photo by Tim MathesonThe Greatest Cities of the World
Creative Team: James Long, Maiko Bae Yamamoto (directors); Nneka Croal, Ruben Castelblanco, Susan Elliott, Young-Hee Kim, Andrew Laurenson, Michael Rinaldi, Tanya Podlozniuk (performers)
Theatre Replacement
Vancouver East Cultural Centre 13-17 March, 2010 Vancouver, BC: The Theatre Replacement company have a reputation for being at the cutting-edge, part of a movement in Vancouver which is 'pushing the envelope': with Electric Company, Boca del Lupo, Radix, The Only Animal and Leaky Heaven Circus. This year Theatre Replacement won the big Alcan Rio Tinto award.

Their idea was to go to the small towns of Tennessee which have the names of great European cities, Paris, London, Athens and Moscow. They taped interviews, while staying sensitive to themselves as outsiders. They must have hoped that this fieldwork would provide a subject - it hasn't. Though staying close to verbatim theatre, they evidently ignored 'The Farm Show' and 'Laramie Project' as models.

Guest Reviewer: Malcolm Page

The Drowning Girls
by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalik
Directed by Charlie Tomlinson
A Bent out of Shape production
Studio: Gateway Theatre, Richmond
March 4 to 13, 2010

Vancouver, BC: The Drowning Girls prompted for me a question rarely asked: why did these people write, or devise, this? The subject is the ‘Brides in the Bath’ murders in Britain of 1912-14. George Smith drowned three wives after they had made wills leaving their money to him, and the first two were initially found to be accidental. Smith's technique for killing comes at the end, a kind of climax. Canadian audiences must be presumed to know nothing of these facts, which probably were found in the old Penguin series, ‘Famous Trials.’

Was the starting point a feminist one, woman as victim? The girls allude briefly to the inferior position of women at the time, though the authors appear not to know of the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870-82.

THE VERTICAL HOUR  by  David Hare
Directed by  Tamara McCarthy
The Jericho Arts Centre
A United Players Production    
November 13th to December 6th

Vancouver, BC:  VERTICAL HOUR LACKS LOINS

EVIL DEAD - THE MUSICAL (The Vancouver Production)
Book & Lyrics by George Reinblatt
Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, George Reinblatt
Music Supervision by Frank Cipolla
Additional Lyrics by Christopher Bond
Additional Music by Rob Daleman
Director: Mark Carter
Choreographer:  Ken Overbey
Musical Director: Sylvia Zaradic
Norman Rothstein Theatre
A Down Stage Right (DSR) Production    
October 29th to November 7th

Vancouver, BC:  THIS CHEESE IS FUN!
The set is crappy (and very cleverly designed), the costumes are deliberately tacky, there have not been worse wigs since Dynel was invented, the props fall apart, the acting is over the top, and my cheeks ached from grinning through the whole show.  This is cheesy as an art form.  The evening is a riot of bad puns, brilliantly bad acting, great singing and fun choreography. 

Director Mark Carter keeps this paper-thin musical airborne for the by keeping his attractive cast racing at breakneck speed so you are hardly aware of the dead spots in the script. 

Based on the cult classic Sam Rami movie, which is a send up of horror films, the musical is a spoof of a spoof...tricky territory for a director with less skill than Carter.  But he pulls it off with the help of a smart set designer, John Bessette and the wacky choreography of Ken Overbey ... and that cast. 

Scott Walters plays the manic Ash with bulging biceps, bulging veins and bulging eyeballs.  He has the nice guy, potential psycho thing nailed.  He is ably abetted by Meghan Gardiner as both dumb blonde Annie and not so bright Shelly, who is so good in both parts that she should be given away as Christmas presents. 

ANY NIGHT
Created by Daniel Arnold, Medina Hahn and Ron Jenkins
Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch)
A DualMinds Production    
October 6th to 17th

 

 

Vancouver, BC:  
"We live our lives forward, but only understand them backward", says Anna (Medina Hahn) who then takes us on what becomes a waking nightmare, increasingly haunted by seemingly benign, Patrick (Daniel Arnold).  These two intensely talented actors, who are always surprising, are also the playwrights of this roller coaster ride of a play that explores the observer and the observed, the victim and the perpetrator, the dream and reality. 

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