Words. Videos. Images. Clicked links. Thoughts. Mixed Messages. Smoke And Mirrors. Right Wing Extremism. Hate. Violence. Bring and register your phone. You will interact with Javaad Alipoor as he presents this thought provoking work on Middle East & ISIS Extremist & the power of the internet. Chat rooms and memes connect people who feel disconnected from their actual community on one forum. There they post their extremist views on various topics and share controversial, even racist pictures.
Alipoor, the British performer, writer and co-director relates to the audience the stories of the young males or boys, as he calls them, who don’t feel that they belong. He brings home his points by texting and sending material to the audience. These misfits join extremist chat groups. Here anyone can express his/her views without reprisal. Anything goes. Some also make the trek to become part of Isis and find themselves somewhat unprepared.
It is a story about young men who feel undervalued and are searching for a leader. They are tech-savy and thus are poised to influence an outcome that promises their view for the greater good over evil. They fight for Muslims – Allah. They support Trump – Hail Donald Trump. Their truth is black or white. Bush initiated this with “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”.
This play is complex with many layers. Current world events are hi-lighted. Hate is still a dominant force. The Big Question is on the distribution and accessibility of news and facts. What is fake news and how does this influence our lives. The politics of this are felt world wide.
The Believers Are But Brothers, created by Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housley (UK), part of Diwali in BC, is part of the Ceasefire series at the Cultch. Easily accessible by public transit, this 65 minute play runs until November 10, 2018.Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/the-believers-are-but-brothers/
~ reviewed by Tara K. Torme
The beautiful promotional images don't even half do this show justice. And while standing ovations can sometimes feel obligatory in the small Vancouver theatre scene, I have never been a part of a more complete, enthusiastic and vocally appreciative standing ovation than the one at the opening night of Backbone at the Playhouse Theatre. The piece is a combination or circus and physical theatre. Not with a narrative per se, but with strong images, themes, and a beautifully sculpted through-line that will leave you feeling not only awe-inspired by the strength, flexibility and daring of the performers in the kaleidoscope of movement that flurries across the stage, but also emotionally and intellectually satisfied.
One of the things I loved most about this production was how much FUN these performers where having! Melody, my date for the evening, even saw one of the women, as she was flying through the air being thrown from one group on the stage to another, and then another, stick her tongue out mid-air at one of the other performers she was flying by. While these acrobats are obviously dedicated to their craft and while their team work and focus and high level of communication is evident, there's also a deep sense of play, of camaraderie and joyful competition as they tease one another, test one another and explore what they are capable of as individuals and as a group. To have ten bodies moving at top speed on stage rolling, jumping, catching, throwing, being thrown all at once was just mind-boggling to witness.
So much was going on, so fast and so unbelievable that I know I'll be rolling these images around in my head for weeks. If you're fascinated by the ability of the well-trained human body, by the beauty of dance, or if you get revved up by high energy ensemble pieces, then Backbone is a must-see. I found it thought provoking, mysterious, fun, silly, beautiful, and an astounding display of talent.
Backbone by Gravity and Other Myths, hosted by the Cultch, is playing at the Vancouver Playhouse until 4 November 2018. Tickets at https://thecultch.com/events/backbone/
~ reviewed by Danielle Benzon
FARNDALE AVENUE HOUSING ESTATE TOWNSWOMEN'S GUILD DRAMATIC SOCIETY PRODUCTION OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL - THEATRE WEST VAN
Farndale Avenue… “Christmas Carol” at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver was directed by Angie McLeod. The conceit of this play within a play is upheld comprehensively with even the publicity materials in the lobby displaying the "in world" casting, so as soon as you enter the theatre you are already in the play!
We have to commend the company for taking on such a difficult task. As the old saying goes, Dying is easy, Comedy is hard! They could have made a dreadful hash of it. The stumbling, bumbling of the Farndale Dramatic Society could lead one to think that they could waltz through without precision. They would be wrong! Comedy requires precise timing while seeming effortless.
The cast has a range of experience, from neophytes to old hands with resumes as long as your arm. It’s nice to see young talent getting an opportunity to perform alongside well-seasoned performers. It truly is an ensemble piece, with each of the actors balancing the dynamic so that no one character steals the show.
We were surprised that the show didn’t have better attendance. For $22 a seat, this show is a steal! We would recommend it as a must see in this Christmas theatre season.
Farndale Avenue... "Christmas Carol" is playing at the Kay Meek Centre until 10 November 2018.
Tickets at: kaymeek.com/events/farndale-9
Personal aside from Ian regarding the location:
Linda and I use an evening out at the theatre to have a nice meal as well as a fun time at the theatre. An hour’s drive from Langley (where we live) to West Van wasn’t daunting. I am sure many people who live in Vancouver wouldn’t think of making the trip. For us it was worth it.
Surprisingly, we had a bit of a hunt for a restaurant in that part of West Van. When we did find one, we were seated without a reservation only to be told our seat was booked for a party due a half hour later. We were asked to leave the Amici Restaurant. I was so shocked, I missed the opportunity to use the line, “I will have you know I’ve been thrown out of better places than this!”
~ reviewed by Ian and Linda Harrison
Jack Popplewell's Busybody directed by Rebecca Walters at the Metro Theatre is a drama that is filled less with suspense and more with a lot of comedy. The story starts with an investigation of a dead body found in an office that disappears by itself. And then it take turns in laughter and suspense as different events unfold.
The main highlight is Mrs Piper played by Alison Schamberger who did an amazing job. At the end of the show when she arrived to thank the audience, I observed a standing ovation by a few in the crowd. Though all the characters played an important role in supporting Mrs Piper's witty humour, I believe DS Baxter played by David Wallace was the best supporting actor to make her comedy a success. Schamberger was on the stage all the time, except for a few scenes. Being an office cleaner and in the habit of sticking her nose in everyone’s business, she kept poking everyone till the end of the show. Whenever Mrs Piper would frustrate Baxter, his reaction would echo laughter in the theatre. I liked his face going red when he shouted at her in frustration. Being a police officer, Baxter expected some kind of respect, but being old friends, Mrs Piper interfered in all his investigations. Surprisingly, by the end of the show she did indeed play a key role in solving the crime mystery.
This isn’t the first time writer, Loretta Seto, has had her work featured at The Cultch. In 2016 her play Dirty Old Woman took the stage. As I talked to Seto after opening night, she said The Ones We Leave Behind has a much different tone than the comedic wit of her previous work. She was glad to hear that although it was a more serious story, the comedy of the play (Abby’s mother - played by Alannah Ong - in particular) still landed. The crowd seemed thoroughly entertained.
This was a great technical show, but I feel like it lacked heart in some areas. I had a hard time believing the relationship conflict between Abby and her boyfriend Kyle, (maybe it was surreal to play ‘dating’ when the couple is married in real life!) but the relationship between Abby and her mother had depth and was very convincing. Shoutout to Gerald King and Dorothy Dittrich for excellent lighting and sound design.
For a full list of cast, crew and show times, check out https://thecultch.com/events/the-ones-we-leave-behind/ and plan to catch the Artist Talkback after the performances on the 28th and 30th. For more Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, check out http://www.vact.ca.
The Ones We Leave Behind is playing at the Cultch Historic until 3 November 2018.
Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/the-ones-we-leave-behind/
~ reviewed by Chantal M. Marie
Going to the theatre is always a chance for us to get a little dressed up and make an occasion of it. We had a meal out and then walked to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage to see the Pulitzer Prize winning show SWEAT by Lynn Nottage and directed by Valerie Planche. The Arts Club have used the magnificent old building for the past 20 years as one of the venues for their theatre company.
SWEAT is a co-production with Citadel Theatre of Alberta and will be in Edmonton in the New Year with the same sets and actors. Half the Creative team and actors came to us from Citadel Theatre and half from Arts Club. What a wonderful way for the two cities to share talent!
The show is a cultural snapshot of the industrial heartland of America. It documents the profound changes in American society in the first decade of the 21st Century. Looking back, I am sure there will be many in the audience who can trace modern political trends from their birth in that time. I know as I walked out, there were many discussions about the subject matter of the play and how it reflects on today’s society and politics.
When I went, I expected to hear a polemic of modern capitalism. To my surprise, the author adopted an observer position and didn’t preach or politic but simply permitted the individuals’ perspective be revealed through events and relationships.
I’ve been a union activist. I’ve been in strikes and seen them tear friendships apart. This play while it accurately reflects those attitudes and stresses also takes a step back to examine other factors. Without reservation I recommend this play to followers of politics and society in North America.
SWEAT will be playing at the Arts Club Stanely Industrial Alliance Stage until 18 November 2018.
Tickets at: https://artsclub.com/shows/2018-2019/sweat
~ reviewed by Ian (and Linda) Harrison
As girls from different schools and walks of life come together on a soccer field, The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe tries to guide you through the awkwardness and chaos of girl adolescence. The girls express thoughts on current political as well as personal issues in a variety of ways often fumbling about while simultaneously wanting to be heard and fit in yet hiding their own challenges and secrets. While there are flashes of maturity In how the girls handle social sensitivities, it isn’t until an event occurs that you see the shift from children to adulthood. The performers are convincing as young girls however I found the scattered dialogue amongst soccer drills a struggle to sit through despite the snippets of humour, although it appeared others in the audience found it more entertaining.
The Wolves is playing at Pacific Theatre until 10 November 2018.
Tickets at: http://rumble.org/upcoming-shows/the-wolves/
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
Joe Laughlin is the founding Artistic Director of Joe Ink. I’ve only been to one other show where the performer takes a long moment at the start of the show to take in the audience. He stood in front of us in silence (although there was some sound bleed from a nearby venue that was slightly distracting) and made eye contact with us for a significant amount of time. If you’re not used to that, it might make you uncomfortable because it’s not often that we go somewhere to see something, and find ourselves being seen. Perhaps that’s why people are hesitant about the theatre.
Joe: A Solo Show is a very personal piece, and if you’re looking to be fed a story or narrative, the closest you’ll get to it is the voiceover components where the choreographers (Amber Funk Barton, Gioconda Barbuto and Vincent Mantsoe) talk about their inspiration for the pieces they created with Laughlin. What I found beautiful was the way Laughlin knew exactly what he was saying, even if the contemporary dance looked abstract to the audience. There were moments where I wanted more out of a certain movement than I got, but maybe that’s part of the exploration of how age changes us. I left this piece incredibly reflective rather than highly entertained, and it was refreshing.
Joe Ink also puts on a program called Move It! - “a dancing experience for everybody, helping participants discover their natural impulse to move and groove.” which I’m very interested in.
Joe: A Solo Show is playing at the Scotia Bank Dance Centre until 20 October 2018.
Tickets at: https://www.thedancecentre.ca/event/joe_a_solo_show_october_18_20_2018
~ reviewed by Chantal M. Marie
Within minutes of Brad Fraser’s Kill Me Now beginning you can feel the love emanate from his characters and it never stops. It’s not just a story of a struggling father and son as the other three characters provide further depth showing that support and reassurance can be found in unlikely pairings if you only allow yourself to open your heart and your mind. These characters are rich in both writing and performance. It’s a comedy so real that at times you have tears in your eyes and you’re not sure if it’s because your heart is breaking or if it’s just that beautiful. Fraser chooses to take what can easily be a a depressing story and focuses instead on the strengths and courage of his characters to weave a tale of true compassion and inspiration. Go see it. Your heart will be richer for it. 150 minutes no intermission.
Kill Me Now is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre until 27 October 2018.
Tickets at: https://www.touchstonetheatre.com/season/kill-me-now
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
During the course of one hour A Vancouver Guldasta, written and directed by Paneet Singh, immerses you within a Punjabi home during the early 80s when the Sikh community in India is under attack. The unrest in India stretches across the ocean and as an audience you experience the effects on family and communities and how it heightens the struggle with their own identities, their sense of home and freedom and how these struggles affect their actions. You feel their helplessness, frustration and fear. What makes this script extra special is how Singh weaves in the Vietnamese character and the impact it has on the entire story. Although historical and educational this production is one of emotion that elicits empathy for those who build a home away from their origins in pursuit of freedom but don’t always necessarily feel free and appreciation for how insignificant many of our troubles are.
A Vancouver Guldasta is playing at the Cultch until 21 October 2018.
Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/a-vancouver-guldasta/
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
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ABOUT THEATRE ADDICTS
Founded by Danielle Benzon, a self-professed theatre addict.