Solo shows with a minimalist set are my favourite type of theatre. It's what I grew up on and in some way it feels more pure to me. I also grew up loving Nietzsche, Herman Hesse, Goethe and other such romantically lonely tortured genius old men so the character of Krapp, from the outset, felt familiar to me. An old friend who needs no introduction or explanation.
Director David Thumas Newham and actor Linden Banks have created a piece that is simultaneously physically comedic and soul-wrenching. Watching Krapp, alone in his dingy room with tape recorder, banana and booze as he relates to his former self, seeing his regrets, his frustration and his reactions to his youthful hopes made me wonder what I'll think about the choices I'm making now many years down the line. It's a quiet piece, intimate and self contained. Nothing is explained, as few dramatic devices are used as possible. This is just a moment. A brief, deep look into the layers of a man's self through time.
I realize this wasn't at all the intention, but the experience has inspired me to record my own tapes. The intimacy of a lone voice recounting a fresh memory appeals to me. Reaching out to oneself through time. Hopefully my experience will be less lonely than Krapp's.
I mention another New Year's favourite of mine in the video review, Dinner for One. You can see that short film here: https://youtu.be/BN9edpdCH7c If you watch Krapp's Last Tape, you might find the tiger rug and the tape recorder wire serve a similar function. Although the content of this film is significantly lighter than the content of the play.
Krapps' Last Tape produced by Seven Tyrants's Theatre is playing at Tyrant Studios until 26 October 2018.
Tickets at: http://www.seventyrants.com/krapps-last-tape/
~ reviewed by Danielle Benzon and Chantal M. Marie
We rarely question why we are the way we are. Our actions, beliefs, mannerisms. But upon transitioning, Kit Redstone finds himself observing these very things in his fellow male counterparts and shares these thoughts in his presentation of Testosterone.
Although some interesting questions are raised there is no time to linger as this playful production seems more focused on challenging you to embrace and laugh at the often absurd, yet all too real, aspects of masculinity. At times I felt it was a bit too silly however overall it helped give a refreshing perspective of the expectations men are held to and with the countering pressures of the #metoo movement it can’t be an easy place to be.
So even if it’s a little too comical this musical and physical performance provides an opportunity for us all to laugh a little, in a good natured way and, if you dig a bit, perhaps also question what we can do to change these long standing societal constructs we insist on putting ourselves in.
Testosterone is a coproduction by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company, Kit Redstone and Zee Zee Theatre and will be playing at the York Theatre 2 - 13 October 2018. Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/testosterone/
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
A unique and intriguing interpretation of the Biblical story: Cain and Abel. Directed and performed by Aryo and Arash Khakpour, these two artists convey the story through aggressive movement, jarring sound effects and a variety of props. The main focus of the performance is on the relationship between the two brothers, and in the second half: two sisters.
Due to the absence of female characters in the original story this interpretation explored the dynamics between the two characters as women instead of men. Drawing on excerpts from The Maids the Khakpours portray monologues in character that come across as comical as well as emotionally moving. Filled with symbolism and a lack of explicitness, this performance can be hard to follow at times. The two performers seamlessly change from aggressive, to loving, to playful and even comical and in and out of their characters.
Cain and Abel by The Biting School is playing at the Firehall Arts Centre from October 3rd - October 6th. Tickets at: http://firehallartscentre.ca/onstage/cain-and-abel/
~ reviewed by Selene Dublanko
~ reviewed by Annina Englebrecht and Selene Dublanko
The Cascadia Project's Green Night consists of two productions, Eight Ways to Fate and All, and Oaks. These are two of six pieces in the project which was founded by Bryan Wade, UBC Professor of Creative Writing.
Eight Ways to Fate and All, though a well-intentioned piece aimed at bringing awareness to the Opioid Crisis in Vancouver, fell short in a number of ways. Written and Directed by Bryan Wade, this production, unfortunately, failed to acknowledge a significant aspect of opioid use in Vancouver - that those most acutely impacted by this epidemic have been the residents of the Downtown Eastside including people of colour, poorer folks, those with disabilities, people with mental illness, Indigenous people, people in the LGBTQ community, sex workers, and other marginalized/more vulnerable populations.
Unfortunately, the production as a whole failed to make acknowledgement of the systematic and oppressive aspects of the Opioid Crisis. It erased the stories of many people affected by this epidemic.
Instead the piece mainly consisted of several dramatic recreations of overdose, akin to a well intentioned, but poorly executed Afterschool Special.
Further research and consultation with those living and working in the Downtown Eastside would have greatly benefitted this production.
Oaks, written by Fiona Revill, brought a warm and charming conclusion to the Green Night. Revill's writing was succinct and left room for the imagination. Without the need to be explicit in everything she described, Revill credited the audience with the ability to imagine, discover, and follow along with the production - which we gratefully did. The performers listened to one another beautifully, bringing their sibling relationship to life. This production was grounded, clear, and beautifully written.
The Green Night Program: Eight Ways to Fate and All and Oaks will be playing September 26th to October 7th at Studio 1398 on Granville Island. Ticket at: https://www.thecascadiaproject.com/
~ reviewed by Madisen Steele
Incognito Mode is a play about porn and its societal context. Put on by the student actors of Langara’s Studio 58, Incognito Mode: A Play About Porn explores how technology and pornography interact and shape the lives of young people who have grown up with largely unfettered access to both. Beyond being an edgy but engaging play, it is part of a collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative that spans several post-secondary institutions.
The play is part of IMPACTS, a project aimed at addressing sexual assault on post-secondary campuses, and definitely warrants a trigger warning for descriptions of sexual assault and discussions of sexual violence. A lot of the discussion about pornography is informed by existing research and a research workshop lead by Stuart Poyntz, an Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, and Ruth Beer, Professor and Assistant Dean at Emily Carr University and featuring the students of Langara College Studio 58.
The plot of Incognito Mode follows a group of friends from high school who enjoy talking about porn at parties and making Harry Potter references. There are artistic asides that look more closely at how exposure to porn has impacted their perception of sexuality as well as a charming musical number featuring oversized genital costumes. This might all sound a little bit cheesy, but the acting, writing, and direction were are skilled and nuanced enough to make it an emotional and thought-provoking show.
There were some really creative elements. A seemingly very authentic pre-recorded reaction clip of one of the actors is played halfway through, briefly blurring the line between character and actor. I also really enjoyed the lighting and music before the start of the show. With a mostly dark stage, some intense spot lights, and music playing loudly enough to make the floor vibrate with the bass, it felt like walking into a house party or night club.
Incognito Mode: A Play About Porn, coproduced by New World Theatre and Langara's Studio 58, is playing at Studio 58 from 29 Sep to 14 Oct.
Tickets at: https://langara.ca/studio-58/current-season/index.html
Other useful links:
~ reviewed by Sunny Tchoukova
Set in a rundown bar in the Bronx, we meet Roberta, a divorced mother, anxious, upset, clearly tortured by something when in walks Danny bloodied and bruised, fresh from his latest fight. A banter is stuck up between them, vicious insults are tossed around but incredibly, these two lost souls desperate for connection end up confessing secrets to one another, things they have never shared with anyone else before. Roberta announces she’s gonna take him home so they can love each other. Danny protests, “They call me the Beat”. Not to be deterred Roberta replies, “Come on. Let’s get outta here. Let’s go home”.
Their night together is like a dream, where two misfits find a slice of serenity in their otherwise rocky worlds.
But what will happen in the morning?
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is a hard hitting play by John Patrick Shanley that has stood the test of time and is still relevant today.
Director Jay Brazeau is to be lauded for his countless hours of service to this production as well as his co-director Sarah Rose. Artists collectives do this work mostly for their love of the craft not the paycheque - so thank you both for your time and dedication to this project. It’s a beautiful baby!
There were so many elements of this production that truly shone - a collective in the purest sense. I loved that the moment I stepped inside the theatre I was transported immediately to the Bronx by Warren Abbot’s set design - Stellar! And that set change - well done. Kudos to choreographers Shelley Stewart-Hunt and Robbie Hebert for their contribution. That’s all I’m saying about that one, you have to see it for yourself.
Itai Erdal’s lighting design throughout the show was exquisite. From the ‘moon', to the candle in the night and the tale of the deep blue sea - the design supported each moment magically. Of special mention is Erdal’s black and white photo gallery on the walls as you walk in. What a special treat that was.
Stefania Indelicato is flawless as Roberta. The precision with which she utilizes her instrument is breathtaking. I was moved to tears several times by her work throughout the night.
Johnny Ghorbani, Executive Producer and Danny co-star has tackled this mammoth play with the fierce tenacity needed to accomplish such an amazing feet. So few people can truly appreciate the complexity of tackling both roles simultaneously, so kudos to Ghorbani for picking such a hard hitting play and character to dig his producing chops into. As Danny, I enjoyed the vulnerability Ghorbani showed us with his interpretation of this piece. That said I would have liked to see more of the “Beast" in this role.
At its heart this is a story of love of forgiveness and it is beautifully told by this amazing team. I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by the Athletes of Soul Collective is playing at Studio 16 from 27 September to 7 October 2018. Tickets at:
~ reviewed by Lori Watt
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ABOUT THEATRE ADDICTS
Founded by Danielle Benzon, a self-professed theatre addict.