Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
Directed by Michael Shamata
Arts Club Theatre Company
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
July 22 to August 22, 2010
Vancouver, BC. Drifting through the Stanley Theatre lobby at intermission, I was struck by the unusual number of men engaged in lively and animated discussion about the events of the first act. There seems to be something about this Mamet piece (other than that it features an all-male ensemble), that makes it resonate more strongly than most productions with male audience members. Maybe its the sense of watching a war-zone where only the strong and ruthless will survive, that makes it so much a man's play.
Henry V by William Shakespeare
Directed by Meg Roe
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival,
Studio Stage, Vanier Park.
to September 24th, 2010
Vancouver, BC: Following her 2008 directing debut at Bard on the Beach with a lively production of The Tempest, Meg Roe has again created a visually exciting and engrossing work in this year's production of Henry V. And this year, instead of having Alessandro Juliani produce a complete soundscape to underscore the production as in The Tempest, she places him front and centre as Henry V. A multi-talented artist - he performs both tasks, sound design (for The Tempest) and acting in the lead role (of two plays at the same time!), with equal aplomb. Juliani is quite entrancing to watch onstage, and he played a Hal and a Henry worthy of the crown he ultimately attains.
Adapted by Errol Durbach from Henry lV, 1 & ll.
Directed by Glynis Leyshon
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival,
Studio Stage, Vanier Park.
to September 22nd, 2010
Vancouver, BC: Having enjoyed both the Mainstage productions of Much Ado about Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra, I did not want to miss Bard's two Studio Stage shows of the 2010 season. So before I took off for a London visit to dine and see theatre prior to going Ballroom Dancing round the British Isles, I made my plans to see Falstaff and Henry V on successive nights soon after my return.
39 and Ticking! The Musical
Written and Directed by Sharon Heath
Music by Ted Hamilton with Joan MacLean
Full Figure Theatre
Jericho Arts Centre
August 3 to 8, 2010
Vancouver, BC: I bet there isn't a woman in the audience for "39 and Ticking!" who regardless of age, does not empathize with Rose and the conflicting voices in her head - specially that of her mother. We may not all share the special dilemma of a 39 year old - longing to have a baby versus that darn ticking biological clock but we all at one time or another have been buffeted by conflicting images and desires from voices buried, but not-so-deep, in our subconscious minds.
Writer/ director Heath has taken the voices that plague 39 year old Rose (Lisa Beley) or at least three of them, and embodied them as free spirit/ cougar Mattie (Lisa Bunting), Mom (Joan MacLean) and some kind of existential guru, played by Chery Mullen who doubles as Rose's boyfriend Dan.
The Misanthrope - a new adaptation of Moliere's play
by Tony Harrison
Directed by C.W. (Toph) Marshall
Jericho Arts Centre
June 4 to 27, 2010
Vancouver, BC: British playwright Tony Harrison's version of Moliere's The Misanthrope has an interesting history that culminated in United Players getting to produce the world premiere of this adaptation. Harrison first adapted The Misanthrope for London's National Theatre in 1973. The current version of his script was commissioned for the Old Vic Theatre but the death of the director in 2006 shelved the project, and Marshall was able to get the rights to stage it for the first time, in Vancouver.
From a production perspective I think that The Misanthrope ends the United Players Season on a high note. The performances were excellent, the set (a modern apartment in Washington) designed by Kyla Gardiner worked well and Jenny Lang's costumes were terrific, especially the gorgeous sexy dresses worn by the seductive Sally Mann (Lara Isaacson). The sound design by Dave Campbell has some interesting music choices - more about that in a bit.
Plan B by Michael Healey
Directed by Bill Devine
May 14-29, 2010
Vancouver, BC: I seem to remember that consistently in public opinion polls on prestige or trustworthiness of various occupations, regardless of poll location, politicians score near the bottom. So it was not surprising that a collective chuckle of acknowledgement rippled through the audience at the idea that everyone feels that they are being "f-cked" over by government.
Canadian playwright Healey sets his political farce in a time when Quebec has voted 53% to separate from the rest of Canada. Anglophone federal politicians, Colin (Howard Siegel) and Michael (Adam Henderson), meet with Francophones, Quebec Premier, Mathieu (Jacques Lalonde) and Intergovernmental Affairs minister, Lise Frechette (France Perras) in a hotel in Hull, ostensibly to hammer out the terms on which Quebec's separation will occur.
Roundhouse Community Centre
Sat, Apr 19th, 2010
Vancouver, BC: In an unusual conjunction, this weekend I had the pleasure of seeing two dance shows (instead of two plays back to back on successive evenings. Friday night's show was the stunning high energy Burn The Floor Ballroom and Latin Dance production at the Vogue Theatre. As a lovely counterpoint, on Saturday night, Ballet Kelowna, a small ballet company with a huge heart performed at the Roundhouse Community Center.
Refuge of Lies
Written and directed by Ron Reed
Pacific Theatre Company
April 9 - May 1, 2010
Vancouver, BC: Refuge of Lies is the kind of play that makes theatre exciting for me. It tells a great story, has strong characters struggling with profound life questions and has the power to engender intense discussions as well as individual explorations of one's personal sense of morality. Throw in a number of excellent performances and powerful staging under the direction of the playwright himself, and you have a riveting drama.
As Reed states, his impetus to write this play originated sixteen years ago when UBC botanist and Mennonite, Jacob Luitjens, was extradited to the Netherlands for war crimes committed some fifty years earlier, during the second world war. Reed took the title and theme for this play from the lines of Isaiah 28:7 - " And I will make justice the line... and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
While the play grew out of the Luitjens story (and that of others like him), Reed emphasizes that the play is not biographical but more about the emotional conflicts stirred up in the playwright himself in response to the events. And the different degrees to which these conflicts spill over into each audience member adds to the power of the piece.
Book by George Abbott. Music & Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Dean Paul Gibson
Musical Direction by Steven Greenfield
Choreography by Shelley Stewart Hunt
Mar 25 to Apr 18, 2010
Vancouver, BC: I always love attending the shows at Studio 58 because regardless of the genre they are performing, the student cast always exudes the vitality and joie de vivre that comes from doing something they love to do. Tonight's show was no exception.
Where's Charley is a musical farce based on the play, Charley's Aunt by English playwright, Brandon Thomas. The play premiered in 1892 and had record breaking runs in England and later on Broadway. Abbott and Loesser's musical adaptation, Where's Charley, directed by Abbott, opened on Broadway in 1948.
Loesser is probably best known for his marvelously hummable melodies and clever lyrics in his 1950 musical, Guys and Dolls, and the 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.
Queen Lear by Eugene Stickland
Directed by Colleen Winton
Western Gold Theatre and Presentation House Theatre
Mar 25 to Apr 10, 2010
Vancouver,BC: Memory - what a powerful emotional factor in so many ways. Is there anyone among us mature (never "older") individuals who does not fear loss of memory as a foreshadowing of loss of mind? I know that every time I can't for the moment recall the name of the lead character in the book I just read, or an actor in a play I reviewed last year, I can feel that my RAM is failing but there is no store where I can buy an upgrade as I can for my computer.
But we can laugh off these memory lapses as minor incidents. For an actor whose biggest nightmare would be to come up blank with lines on stage - wow- how much more frightening an age-related decline in memory would be.
In a heart-wrenching performance, Shirley Broderick conveys the anguish of knowing that one - and one's ability to learn - is not what it was at fifteen!