A poignant and well-researched production, SmallWaR's use of authentic quotes and transcripts from real soldiers and nurses deployed at war made Valentijn Dhaenens' task a difficult and profound one. By creating multiple characters, which he played via pre-recorded video projections and audio, Dhaenen brought to life many different stories - each one moving in its own unique way. The small adjustments Dhaenen made to represent each character were subtle and effective. Just enough to understand what he was doing, but never over the top. The subject matter of SmallWaR was difficult and at times the emotional content of the piece was gratuitous and even dramatized. This, however, is justified considering the difficulty level of what Dhaenen was attempting, and the brutality and horror of what he was describing - all of it found in real transcripts created from real experiences.
SmallWaR, co-produced by SKaGeN (Belgium), Richard Jordan Productions & Theatre Royal Plymouth (UK), is part of the CeaseFire Series presented by the Cultch.
Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/smallwar/
~ reviewed by Madisen Steele
In Khalil Ashanti’s most recent piece, Razor, presented by TheatreWire, he guides you through a significant and challenging time in his life where he’s torn between his craft of acting/entertainment and a world of practicality. As a one man show Ashanti presents a variety of distinct characters that help him determine his chosen path in life. Sometimes humorous, and sometimes dark but always very real, he reminds his audience that it’s not always those that should have your back that are the ones that you find the best support and advice from. I’m not convinced that he goes deep enough with some of the characters although his presentation is on point and entertaining throughout. I’d be interested to see if the piece evolves through future iterations in his upcoming fringe tour.
Razor is playing at Studio 1398 until 9 November 2018.
Tickets at: https://tickets.theatrewire.com/shows/razor/events
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
Ballet BC is my favourite performing arts company in Vancouver by far - their level of excellence and dedication to exploring fresh and innovative ways to express story through movement is impressively consistent. Each program typically consists of three pieces, one world premiere, one Canadian premiere and one revisited favourite. I find this especially satisfying on evenings like tonight where each piece was so different from the others.
Enemy in the Figure - Canadian Premiere - Choreography by William Forsythe
The description in the program is more accurate in describing this piece than I could ever attempt to be. I found it simultaneously fascinating and sinister. The soundscape made me feel like I was in some sort of horror movie - a feeling intensified by the movement of bodies just out of sight, sometimes clambering against the walls on stage. Desperate to enter or to escape? Just one floodlight, manipulated by the dancers, threw shadows and light across the stage, creating interesting shapes in the darkness with sudden reveals as dancers spring into the light and occasionally plunging others into complete darkness. I usually make up stories for pieces like this, my brain creating my own thematic interpretation. For this piece I had only moments, left to wonder at an unnerving mystery.
To this day - World Premiere - Choreography by Emily Molnar
The personification of sound. Set to some gorgeous classic Blues tunes, the dancers embody each guitar riff, twang and drumbeat. A large ensemble dressed in bright colours were all the sensuality, sass and passion that is the Blues. One of the exciting things about Molnar as a choreographer is the way she uses silence. The songs were woven together with mini narratives performed in silence, one of which was possibly the most brilliant physical comedy I have ever seen. It's not often than you hear the entire audience guffaw at the Ballet. For me this piece was the most free, expressive and soulful of the evening.
Petite Cérémonie - Ballet BC 2011- Choreography by Medhi Walerski
This piece was the most true to what I think of as the "signature style" of Ballet BC's ensemble storytelling. In formal dress the dancers explored the different ways in which we feel boxed in by life - the oppressive expectations of others, the superficiality of small talk, and the dynamics of romantic relationships. The ways in which we can feel isolated from a group, the way we feel the push and pull of a significant other, arguments, and loneliness were all expressed through movement, dialogue and a surprising monologue that made this quite the character piece.
Ballet BC's runs in Vancouver are very short, but they tour internationally and collaborate with the best of the best in the world. If you've never attended a performance of theirs, do yourself a favour and attend one of their UPCOMING programs.
Tickets for Ballet BC are available at: https://balletbc.com/
~ reviewed by Danielle Benzon
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Founded by Danielle Benzon, a self-professed theatre addict.