My video review above addresses the trigger warnings for this show. Be aware of topics such as child sexual and physical abuse, abuse denial, and acts of violence such as yelling, throwing things, and overall family trauma.
Carriage opens with Evelyn Lynden preparing for her daughter’s wedding. Her daughter in law, Grace, and son, Daniel, enter and the dynamic is made clear immediately. Evelyn does not like or respect Grace and dotes on Daniel. She consistently undercuts Grace in a variety of subtle and direct ways. Grace, played by the playwright Elise McRae, swallows her reactions out of consideration or her husband. The affection between the two characters is beautiful and sweet, the way they touch each other and lean into one and other communicates that these two have been together a very long time, we find out later they were high school sweethearts. Lucy, the bride to be enters with her fiancé, Simon, and the drama begins.
What follows is 60 minutes of vulnerable, raw and highly emotional content. Almost every relationship in the small group is blown wide open, and not every one gets put back together.
Technically this play was exceptional. The stage is well utilized, very basic stage props are used, lighting is consistent, the acting is really allowed to speak for itself. The play is beautifully written and executed. The actors have taken the time to craft their interconnected relationships in a way that they feel completely authentic. The action comes together in a way that is so believable it is possible to forget you are watching a performance. Kudos to McRae for tackling such a poignant topic with such aplomb.
~ reviewed by Brieanna Fiander
Training of the Shrew by 1001 Steps Theatre Society is a cute concept that misses the mark. It adapts Shakespeare’s play Taming of the Shrew with a spin — instead of the Shrew not being marriageable, she’s not coachable (in this adaption she’s a violent, quick-tempered boxer). The use of boxing as the basis of the play certainly adds comedic elements to the performance, especially in terms of physical humour which the actors are all really good at. However, where the play is weakest is in its faithfulness to the source material. Some of the elements, like the sister not being able to marry until Kate, the Shrew, has a coach don’t make much sense in this context.
The play also suffers from its location at the Picnic Pavilion at Granville Island. The boxing ring setup is certainly a cool idea, however with many of the actors rolling around on the floor, the audience members at the back can’t see what is going on. It’s also outside with no heating so on cold rainy days it gets quite chilly.
In the end, though, I will say the cast have a lot of energy and they have good comedic timing which does lend for an enjoyable performance. If you decide to go see it, my advice would be to sit in the front and make sure to bring a coat!
Training of the Shrew by 1001 Steps Theatre Society is playing at the Picnic Pavilion 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Jenna Masuhara
Rachel and Zoe: Uncorked and Uncensored produced by PrettyUgly Theatre Productions performed at the Waterfront Theatre definitely gets pretty naughty at times. There’s nudity, sexual performances, coarse language, violent content, and of course, a whole lot of wine. For myself personally, some of the jokes and gags fell flat, but as the story progresses it turns out to get quite serious which for me made the performance much more enjoyable.
This three person show portrays the effects dysfunctioning and abusive relationships have on one’s mental and physical health, and the performers, Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Jodi Morden, do a great job performing their emotional monologues.
It’s not the show for everyone, especially if you’re uncomfortable seeing nudity up on stage and some of the dialogue feels stilted. However, it is an enjoyable performance, and Gibson-Fraser and Morden have created likeable characters that have a genuine friendship with each other.
Rachel and Zoe: Uncorked and Uncensored by PrettyUgly Theatre Productions is playing 6 - 16 September at Waterfront Theatre as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Jenna Masuhara
When the write up in the Fringe guide said that Una and Ray had had an illegal relationship, I was curious why that was so ambiguous. Is it too much to spell it out? The play itself spelled out the extent of their illegal relationship in detail so theatre goer be warned that this play confronts sexual abuse and has scenes of violence.
Playwright, David Harrower has managed to give us a neutral view allowing us to enter into the minds of both characters and form our own opinions. Una is trying to understand what really happened and we are flies on the wall, along for the journey.
This version of the play is quite emotional and intense, yet sitting beside me was a young actor who had been cast previously and commented that the version she was in, was much more playful.
Blackbird by Kestrel Solutions Collective is playing at Shoreline Studios 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Melody Owen
Die Hard: the Musical-ish is another tight show from the people who previously brought the Hunger Games Musical Trilogy to the Fringe in years passed.
One of the cleverest aspects of this production is that they acknowledge at the outset that it’s rather ridiculous to be mounting a production of Die Hard on the kind of shoestring budget and barebones theatre space of Fringe. They deal with this by seemingly having writer, director, and producer, Mark Vandenberg talk to the audience directly, breaking the 4th wall, and basically explaining that they don’t have the budget to properly mount Die Hard: the Musical, explaining their hopes and ambitions for the show, and asking the audience for money to make these dreams come true. The show is punctuated by these very funny explanations of what they ‘would do’ if they had the budget.
This show is overall well-written and well-performed. It embraces it’s absurdity and has a lot of fun. The songs are overall strong, except for the first and last numbers, which are the weakest, and could easily be cut or parred down. They cleverly used hits from the 1980’s, with changed lyrics, so that thematically, as well as substantively, it held together.
Although sparse, the costumes and props were well-used. Even though most of the actors and actresses played multiple roles, it was always clear where we were and who was who (except in the opening number, which was confusing). I especially enjoyed the trio who played the 4 German terrorists, who really embraced the absurdity of the show and provided thorough laughs.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this show, I found the beginning to be somewhat unclear, and seemed to require knowledge of the source material. Similarly, I found the multiple epilogues of the ending to drag an otherwise tight show. Mr. Vandenberg may want to consider transitioning at the hilarious “I guess that means everything’s okay now” line right into the ensemble number “We’re Not Kidding”.
Overall, a delightful show, even for those who dislike musicals. You won’t be able to keep yourself from being swept up by the charm and hilarity of this ensemble.
Die Hard: the Musical-ish by District 13 Presents is playing at Studio 1398 on Granville Island 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Vanessa Marshall
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