Heroine, at the Pacific Theatre in the South Granville / Fairview area of Vancouver, was an enjoyable evening put on by a young energetic company of performers who call themselves Affair of Honor. The group is committed to the performance of “visually stunning fight and movement based theatre.” Find out more about the company at https://www.patreon.com/affairofhonor.
It didn’t occur to me that stage, film, and performance combat was such a thing in Vancouver but it is and members of this company are ardent in their passion for the craft of stage and film fighting. For those wishing to indulge, they offer workshops.
The play was written by a Halifax playwright, Karen Bassett, who is dedicated to the discipline of stage fighting. An inability to find good roles for women in this genre led her to write Heroine which has been enthusiastically received and performed across the country.
The premise of the play is the imprisonment and impending punishment of two women accused of piracy. It is 18th century Jamaica. The action takes place in a cell they share while waiting for their execution. One is a self-professed pirate and the other, a former officer in King George’s navy, a woman who has lived her life as a man and only recently been discovered to be a woman.
The evening was enjoyable for the action and the unusual story. With one 15 minute intermission and coming in under two hours in total, the pace never lagged. The production was well put together, likely on a shoestring, with high production standards. Lighting, props, staging and costumes beautifully supported the creation of a particular time and place. The acting and directing were good, sometimes moving, but I confess through the first act I was never in danger of being drawn in. The fourth wall was never quite erected and I attribute that to perhaps too short a rehearsal period, some not quite authentic writing (some phrases and language that was clearly 21st century), and actors who may not yet have fully inhabited the deep dark recesses of their characters.
As you might have guessed there were fights which evolved naturally out of the action and situation of the play. Each woman’s back story leaked out between fights. The precipitating event that got them into the Jamaican jail was difficult to piece together based on the conversations and tidbits exchanged between them but in the second act it all came together.
Heroine had a very short Vancouver run and although I saw it on closing night the play is going on to the Edmonton Fringe in August.
~ reviewed by Evelyn McKelvie
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1. Are you more likely to attend theatre at a festival or as a once-off event?
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