Review From Your Seat

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.

Toronto's Summerworks 2012 Festival Picks
By Guest Reviewer: Jackie Mack

This summer’s attendance at Summerworks, unlike previous years where I was watching colleagues work, was dedicated entirely to reviewing what was seen. Thus rather than arranging my picks in an order of attendance, the following reviews have been arranged in my ascending order of preference. 

The Fever by Wallace Shawn. Directed by Rose Plotek

When choosing pieces to see, I was delighted to discover that one of my favourite plays, The Fever, written by Wallace Shawn, was on the roster.  A one-woman piece about a privileged American/European who encounters the world’s inequalities, and does nothing to change it, was, as I remember it, entirely moving. I was careful, when inviting a friend to join me, to mention that I had no foreknowledge of this particular production, but that the script was so rich, it would be worth a trip to the theatre.  While the production was disappointing, this still holds true.  The play is beautifully crafted, artistically written and contains a universal and timely theme.

Sadly, this particular production left my friend and I feeling like we had been preached at for an hour. It is important to note that Julie Fox’s set, a white carpet on black floor with one wood chair and an overhead fan of a similar wood, was perfectly symbolic of the ideas and setting of the written script. Oddly, there was a buzzing sound audible throughout the performance and this gave a nice atmospheric feel to the set. In addition the lights (Rebecca Picherack), which gradually moved their focus from the audience to light the sole actress (Katie Swift) from the front, top, and back, created magnificent images of an interrogation, an electric chair and creeping animals.

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.

Rachel Scott: Guest Reviewer

Christopher Domig as SadDirt. Written by Robert Schneider
Directed by David Robinson
Performed by Christopher Domig
Designed by Daniel Domig
Translated by Paul Dvorak
Presented by Dreck Productions and incarNATION
at the Vancouver Fringe Festival
 

DIRT, presented by Dreck productions and INCARnation at this year's Vancouver Fringe, is the disjointed, emotional portrayal of an Iraqi immigrant's alienation in the West. This one-man show was written Robert Schneider in the 1990's as an expose of the tensions surrounding immigrant Iraqis during the first gulf war. Twenty years later, the story still resonates, as relations between the Arab world and the West remain complex and fraught.

 Anna Galvin and Jennifer Clement. Photo by Emily CooperGuest reviewer: Amanda LockitchGuest reviewer Amanda Lockitch

Dangerous Corner by J.B. Priestley
Directed by  Bill Dow
Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company
Vancouver Playhouse
May 1- 22, 2010

Vancouver, BC: Talking with a friend after seeing Dangerous Corner I realized just how quickly time can obscure fame. While we both liked the production, my friend admitted, much to her chagrin, that she did not realize we were going to see a play by the British writer J.B.Priestly. Rather, she thought the play was starring Canadian actor Jason Priestley.

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.

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