Vancouver play review

Vancouver, BC:  Yesterday I found myself on the opposite side of an interview - interviewee rather than interviewer. I was checking in for my last shift in the Main Press Centre and unbeknownst  to me, lurking around the check-in desk was one of the volunteers who write the daily Volunteer Newsletter. On hearing that this was the last of my 15 shifts he begged, pleaded and cajoled (alright I exaggerate) until I agreed to have a picture taken for the newsletter. 

Vancouver, BC:  Three cheers for the new Wine Bar  at The Cultch. The Olympic road-closures are at the stage where part of Pacific Boulevard and both the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are closed to traffic so to get from my place anywhere involves ferreting out new routes.  To make sure we were in time for our Micro-Theatre adventure, we set off early along the E. Hastings route to Commercial. Although until just beyond Main Street traffic moved at a snail's pace, after that the pace picked up and we were actually at The Cultch with a good half an hour to spare after collecting our tickets. So we settled down comfortably in the Wine Bar to enjoy a glass of wine while we waited to be called for our show.

Vancouver, BC: I really enjoyed United Player's production of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov, although I did find myself wanting to hand Nickolay Ivanov a strong dose of some psychotropic  medication and a referral to a psychotherapist. But that's the infuriatingly hapless self-absorbed character that Chekhov created.

Vancouver, BC:  As a computer-nerd/technophile of long-standing I was intrigued by the concept of taking the multi-player video game concept into the theatre and eagerly anticipated the experience of my personal avatar interacting with some 200 other avatars to conjure up  a new society in BestLand.

I was especially looking forward to going to see this show  because I anticipated that for several reasons it would be a bit of an adventure . Firstly this would be the first production I would see in the new Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre in the Simon Fraser University complex, newly built on the old Woodwards site. As it turned out it is still so new that I was directed by a security man to an entrance to the theatre complex through a gap in the construction fencing that still surrounds much of the area.

In a unique and rare conjunction, within a four day period, I saw two newly created theatrical works, dealing with similar themes but approached very differently - Beyond Eden and The Edward Curtis Project. After seeing The Edward Curtis Project, I stayed to hear the talk back session in which members of the cast succinctly summed up the common themes of these plays as "obsession and  appropriation".

Vancouver, BC:  Just imagine. You dream  an "impossible dream" for 25 years and finally one exhilarating night, your dream explodes into  reality in a visually and musically stunning production. Beyond Eden had  its world premiere last week on the Vancouver Playhouse stage as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and it is  a "tour de force".  Bruce Ruddell  and his creative collaborators, cast and crew can truly be proud of how his dream has been actualized.

Vancouver, BC:   I loved this show. From the minute the "sunlight" of a new day began to brighten Pam Johnson's meticulously detailed set, the spacious kitchen and dining area of an obviously well-to-do family's home, I was drawn into the unfolding routine of daily life in the Dexter home. The design team, Johnson, Marsha Sibthorpe (lighting) and Philip Clarkson (Costumes) gave director Marti Maraden an attractively authentic environment which the characters created by Fiona Reid as Edith Dexter and Nicola Cavendish as Peggy Randall, the "daily", really seemed to inhabit.

Vancouver, BC:  Start with a script written by one of Canada's iconic playwright/actors and directed by the playwright himself. Feature two compelling powerful female actors with hugely synergistic on-stage chemistry in a small theatre setting where every nuance of  their performance can be seen. And focus on the ebb and flow of an intimate relationship between these two women, from casual meeting, to sexual encounter, touching on friendship, love, attraction, trust and mistrust. My expectations were high - I was expecting truly to be blown away by this play. But I confess I just did not get it.

Vancouver, BC: Led by two Studio 58 alumni, director Anita Rochon, and Mike Wasko as the insanely jealous  Sicilian king Leontes, the student cast succeed in presenting a interesting and entertaining production of  The Winter's Tale. I use the word succeed deliberately because as I look back on my  reviews of other  productions of this play (Winter's Tale, Summer's Storm), I note that this play in more ways than the conventional meaning for me is a problem play, and it is a real challenge to pull it off well.

Vancouver, BC: As those of you  who have followed my recent  theatre travels and cruise adventures dancing at sea to destinations from Bora Bora to Beijing to  Los Angeles to New York, know by now, I am delirious about dance, so how could I not love a show with a song titled "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing"?  Add some rapid-fire tap dancing, great ensemble work and music and lyrics that are embedded  in my memory bank from years back, and White Christmas makes for a delightfully sentimental evening's entertainment.

"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.

You take a brilliantly written script that turns the Judas Iscariot story inside out, set it in a court room, lace it with profanity, people it with some of the best actors in town, and you have a riveting evening of theatre. 

Vancouver, BC.  Bryony Lavery 's play has all the elements that should make for  compelling theatre. An tragic situation connecting three characters - a serial killer, the mother of the girl he abducted and the academic who is studying him and others like him;   and issues that one can argue endlessly : is he evil or is he sick? Can he be forgiven,  should he be forgiven and what does forgiveness really mean?

Vancouver. BC:   The evening opened with a welcome from Brenda Leadley, the Artistic Director of Presentation House with a message about why we should protest damaging government cuts to grants for the arts, and then The Veil, written and directed by Shahin Sayadi proved to the audience why we should be taking to the streets.