Click on the "Read More" on the bottom right for the full transcript of the video review.
I must admit, I am a sucker for some good improv theatre. Regrettably, it had been longer than I care to admit since I’d last made it out to a show. So I had quite a bit of anticipation for Vancouver Theatre Sports’ new show Avocado Toast, a parody on the eccentricities of life in Vancouver.
Not only will the same show not be seen twice, but the cast of Avocado Toast rotates as well! I had the pleasure of enjoying the talents of: Jullian Kolstee, Ken Lawson, Taz VanRassel, Margret Nyfors, Rae-Lynn Carson, and Ed Witzke, all hosted Lauren Mcgibbon. The chemistry on stage was palpable between these wickedly clever comedic improvisors. But, perhaps the best testament to these performers is the fact that I was sat beside a woman vacationing from Mexico who’d come to see her first ever improv show. She was very excited but also somewhat unsure due to english being her second language. Well, lo and behold, she was laughing as hard as I was! Even though the odd word or reference might have not landed for her, the night’s improvisers were so good at physical comedy that their scenes transcended any barriers.
Avocado Toast is a fantastic show. It’s format is especially great because it not only has many opportunities for audience participation but also has an overarching narrative that ties oh so perfectly into the realities of living in Vancouver. A word also needs to be said for the unsung heroes of the night, the ‘Technical Improvisers’ who have the challenging -- and often hilarious -- job of operating the lights and sound cues all while keeping up with whichever inventive, ridiculously funny scene was unfolding.
I honestly cannot recommend this show highly enough. I fully intend going to see it at least one more time! Avocado Toast runs until September 1 at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. Do yourself a favour and don’t dare miss these guys!!
~ reviewed by Josh Cronkhite
We'd love to hear from you!
Please comment on the review, the show if you see it, or pick from one of the following conversation starters:
1. What things do you personally do that is typical for Vancouver?
2. What is your pet peeve / favourite part of living in Vancouver?
3. What crazy names, ridiculous double standards, or Vancouver themed activities could you offer the improvisational team?
Want to try a taste before you decide? Why not check out the VTSL promo video below?
Click on the "Read More" on the bottom right for the full video transcription.
Timon of Athens is, to the admission of Bard on the Beach, a (probably) half-written Shakespearean play that is quite confounding. It does not sit terribly comfortably solely in the realms of comedy, tragedy, history… Nor does it have any romantic subplots or familial deceits and collusions. Despite these oddities, William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and director Meg Roe have crafted a piece of theatre that poses some very topical questions indeed.
This production is a great showcase of the power of interdisciplinary artistic collaboration. Mara Gottler, the costume designer, deserves loud praise for her astute eye in choosing costumes that at once act as the charcoal character-study sketches on which the coming theatrical canvas is painted. This was particularly helpful due to this being a more obscure Shakespearean piece -- it significantly cut any possible learning curve launching the entire audience into the action right off the top. This economical, artistic pragmatism is also translated into the vision of the set designer Drew Facey’s versatile set. The design (without wanting to give too much away!) is surprising and is yet another element that clearly fuelled these actresses. . .
Being only a ninety minute one-act play, the time flew by. There was a real buzz in the air, partly of course because it was opening night(!), but also, I believe, because of the general unfamiliarity the typical audience has with this slice of Shakespeare's oeuvre. There was a sense of people sitting forth on the very sterns of their chairs waiting to revel in the reveal of the language that would be the force through which the green fuse of the actresses drove the play. And Chief among those actresses is Colleen Wheeler as Timon who turned out a muscular, entertaining, and chilling performance. If the play ran for much longer you’d have had to scrape her off the floor at curtain for the sheer effort she exerted on stage. Other than a few moments where a couple of the actresses’ acting techniques were briefly visible (I suspect these will be ironed out promptly), the cast as a whole, full of its ‘glass-faced flatterers’, is very solid. In particular I found Quelemia Sparrow as Ventidius gloriously, hilariously vain and Moya O’Connell as Flavius has one of the less ‘meaty’ parts but yet I found to be compulsively watchable.
In the night’s program, director Meg Roe talks a little about the difficulties involved with staging and pinning down this play. She signs off by saying that she thinks of Timon of Athens as a parable and wants us to fill in its moral. I believe Roe did a great job of posing various questions with her staging of this piece. For me, without hopefully giving away too much, the play’s moral is this: when the tides of fortune finally come a-crashing, you best not have crafted your life on a foundation of sand. This play will leave you plenty to discuss after curtain call. You may find it speaks to you in a different way than it does me, that’s part of the beauty of Shakespeare.
Timon of Athens plays on the Howard Family Stage as part of of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vanier Park from June 26 to September 9… Don’t miss out! Let us know what you think, we always love a good discussion.
We'd love to hear from you:
Please comment on the review or pick from one of the following conversation starters.
1. Do you feel like social media and the way we communicate through technology has had an effect on the depth of your relationships?
2. Are we creating a world that is easier for "glass faced flatterers"?
3. In life, do you feel you can tell a lot about a person from looking at the way they dress? Or do you find that those first impressions can be misleading?
4. Do you attend Shakespearean productions regularly? If not, would you consider Timon after this review?
5. Please share your thoughts on other versions of Timon of Athens or this particular production if you see it.
~ reviewed by Josh Cronkhite
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