Vancouver theatre review

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.

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".

Ky Scott, Alex Rose, Carlos Rodriguez, Caitlin McCarthy. Photo by David CooperThe Secret in the Wings by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by Mike Stack
Music composition and direction by Kevin McNulty
Studio 58, Langara College
Nov 18 to Dec 5, 2010

This show may not have made it onto your theatre-going radar but I highly recommend that you head on over to Studio 58 at Langara College to see The Secret in the Wings. Everything about this production and especially the perfectly paced direction and the outstanding ensemble work is first class. It's definitely top of my current "do not miss" list of shows.

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.

Bart Anderson and Eric McCormack. Phot by Emily CooperGlengarry 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.

Alessandro Juliani as Henry V. Photo by David BlueHenry 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.

Dean Paul Gibson Falstaff) and Alessandro Juliani (Hal): Photo by David Cooper.Falstaff
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. 

Lisa Bunting, Lisa beley, Cheryl Mullen and Joan MacLean39 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.

Stephanie Dyck, Shannon Christopher, Lara Isaacson in The MisanthropeThe Misanthrope - a new adaptation of Moliere's play
by Tony Harrison
Directed by C.W. (Toph) Marshall
United Players
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.

Adam Henderson and Jacques Lalonde working on PlanBPlan B by Michael Healey
Directed by Bill Devine
Sea Theatre
Presentation House
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.


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