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As I See It

Sandra Medeiros and Carlo Marks. Photo by Angelo Renai

While a thunderstorm rages over an isolated log cabin deep in a forest, siblings Bobby and Betty, are there together ostensibly to clear out a tenant's property from the cabin. But this is no Hansel and Gretel story of innocent siblings threatened by a mean step-mother and a cannabilistic witch with a fairy tale happy ending. Instead it is a dark exploration of the truth and lies  behind the emotions of an big sister-baby brother relationship now grown up.

The cast of Miss Shakespeare. Photo by Bold Rezolution Studio

The premise of this show had me hooked from the beginning. It's early 17th century England and theatre abounds. Companies of players are performing comedies and tragedies with meaty roles for the players to tackle - but only if the players are men. Women are not allowed to perform and if they risk it and are caught on stage, they are subject to shaming by the church. This gender-based prohibition does not sit well with Miss Judith Shakespeare (Amanda Lisman) the feisty younger daughter of The Bard...

The cast of In The Heights at Arts Club. Photo by David Cooper

I was happy to get a chance to see this show as I missed it on each of my New York trips and I really enjoyed it a lot.

I liked the musical variety with Latin rhythms, salsa, merengue and rap, and the energy of the salsa and hip-hop dancing.

Jennifer Suratos, Christopher King and Ryan Lino. Photo by Nicol Spinola

I have always been bemused by the terms "fairy tales" or "children's stories" used to describe the collections of German folk lore compiled in the 19th century by the appropriately named Brother's Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm. Although sanitized and glamorized into gentler, happier and pretty versions  as in the animated Disney films that even young children love to watch, the actual stories tell of violent acts and cruelty that don't always end with the protagonists living "happily ever after."

Just think of Cinderella, abused by her step-mother and sisters, without any help or intervention from her own father. There is...

Evan Frayne, Ron Reed. Photo by Damon Calderwood

Vancouver, BC: Who would have thought that a 65 minute play about an imagined conversation between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis could be as spell-binding as I found this show to be? I was enthralled throughout.

And this just might be Ron Reed's finest performance yet, as the physically ailing Freud, whose mind and wit remains sharp as it ever was despite the excruciating pain of his oral cancer.

Graham Percy as Marlowe. Photo by Benjamin Laird Arts and Photo

Vancouver, BC:  Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe is a tough, hardboiled, private detective, who operates in the seedy underworld areas of 1940s Los Angeles. First appearing in The Big Sleep, his second appearance as protagonist was in Farewell My Lovely, the novel that is the basis for this adaptation.

The storyline is a tad hard to follow but as expected in the genre of private  eye fiction there are beautiful and mysterious but lethal women, guns, blood and bodies, and strangely a psychic who turns out to be ... someone else.

 Raresh DiMofte and Michael Kopsa. Photo by Tim Matheson

Everything was Blasted ! The protagonists, the set... and I. Knowing what was about to explode on stage before my eyes, I fortified myself with a pre-show glass of wine but that in no way softened the impact of this play. The anger, fear, acts so violent that I closed my eyes, hit me like the ton of the rubble that fell from the ceiling.  Yet Kane's characters are so appallingly grotesque that mercifully I felt emotionally distanced from the pain I was observing...

Richard Russ as Wolfie. Photo by Tim Matheson

What a joy and a privilege it is to be witness to the premiere of a powerful beautifully written and performed Canadian play. The impact of Kanagawa's sensitive adaptation of Ibsen's play was evident by the momentary electrically-charged silence of the audience before applauding at the end of both the first and second act.

The image that ended the first act, of the boy floating in water, was quite haunting, and will fix this play in my memory for a long time.

Andrew Wheeler and Emmelia Gordon. Photo credit: Pink Monkey Studio.

I missed last year's run of PROUD at The Firehall so I was happy to be able to get to the opening night of this 2015 run of PROUD. Although, knowing it was a political comedy about Stephen Harper, and being far more of a fan of Harper than a detractor, I confess I was a bit apprehensive that this would be a carping diatribe against the PM and his policies.
Was I wrong!  Michael Healey has written a clever, very funny political satire. His script shoots verbal arrows that skewer his target dead on yet don't leave nasty...

Susinn McFarlen & Anna Galvin. Photo by David Cooper

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
by Christopher Durang
directed by Rachel Ditor
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

If the names did not already tell you that Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is intended to be a comedic homage to Anton Chekhov, the bust of Chehkov in Alison Green's wonderful book-lined sitting-room set would be a strong indication.

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