This is only the second productions I've seen by Seven Tyrants, but they have already earned a favourite place in my heart. Very different in content and style from Krapp's Last Tape, Doubt: A Parable the second play of this season, was similarly expertly executed. The world of the play was full and tangible. The approach to creating multiple locations in one small space was creative, flexible and really just visually beautiful.
Doubt is a frustrating piece of theatre. Not because of any fault in the writing or execution, rather the opposite. So much like life where we aren't given the answers, where this is no black and white, right or wrong, we are witness to an impossible situation with an impossible solution. Once doubt has entered the mind, the damage is irrevocable. Nothing can be done.
A compelling, though-provoking, masterfully executed piece that will leave you questioning each character's motives in turn as well as your own preconceptions and convictions.
Doubt: A Parable is playing at Tyrant Studios until 14 December 2018. Tickets at: http://tickets.tyrantstudios.com/
~reviewed by Danielle Benzon
If you are looking for some uplifting, festive theatre then look no further. Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon can best be described as cute and heartwarming and is a nice introduction to the holiday season. Sticking with the holiday theme nothing gets too heavy and the conflicts that crop up are dealt with in a humorous manner.
Jane Austen fans will surely be pleased with this sequel for it hits a lot of the familiar Jane Austen plot beats, and there are a lot of call backs to the original source material which is always a treat. Also, the set of this production is amazing and definitely adds to the festive elements of the story.
My main critique is that it's a bit on the long side and some of the scenes could have been tightened up, but overall, it’s a performance that I believe most can enjoy.
This pleasant Jane Austen sequel will surely make you smile and sometimes you just need entertainment like that.
Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley runs till Dec. 30th 2018 at the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage. Tickets at: https://secure.artsclub.com/events/detail/miss-bennet-christmas
~ reviewed by Jenna Masuhara
The About Love: A Festival of Short Plays by Tomo Suru Players is a nice way to spend an evening. A perfect adventure for the novice as well as veteran theatre goer alike. At 10 minutes a piece you don’t commit a lot of time to any one performance so if one doesn’t capture you there’s a good chance the next one may. However I didn’t feel there were any duds in this selection of 9 short plays in either writing, directing or acting. Granted there were varying levels of engagement but all were very convincing and compelling (I couldn’t resist). And although all the plays had to represent love in some fashion, they weren’t all about romantic love and touched on such a wide variety of themes as well as varied in tone - some more comedic and some more serious.
No major warnings here.. some strong language, some LBGTQ content as well as references to abuse but overall it’s a light evening with some inventive works and solid performances which I’d be surprised if anyone didn’t enjoy to some extent. Thanks to Tomo Suru for creating these opportunities for playwrights, directors, actors and audiences.
About Love: A Festival of Short Plays by Tomo Suru Players is playing at the Havana Theatre until 25 November 2018. Tickets at: http://www.tomosuruplayers.com/about-love-festival
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
In The [Organization], an unladylike co. production, writer Rachelle Miguel explores corporate dynamics in an intimate site specific office setting. The 6 performers embrace their characters convincingly and I think anyone in an office environment would struggle not to recognize each one in their own workplace. Diversity seems to be the latest buzz word for corporations but what does it mean? Is anything really changing? What does it take to effect change? And to who’s determent?
In under 60 minutes Miguel manages to cast a wide net of ugly and infers many more questions without any answers. But perhaps that’s what’s needed to start the process of change. I’d highly recommend as a substitute for your next team building event or even Xmas party.
The [Organization], presented by unladylike, Rumble and Urban Ink is playing at the Urban Ink Office until 24 November 2018. Tickets at: https://unladylikeco.wixsite.com/unladylikecompany/news
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
After beginning with much of the familiar “campiness” that is often associated with musical theatre, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical surprises the audience by seamlessly transforming into a poignant and deeply profound psychological journey of a young girl who eventually discovers that her own voice was worth hearing.
Sarah Bockel’s lead performance of Carole King was nothing less than brilliant, with Bockel’s voice and personhood beautifully mirroring that of the singer/songwriter herself. She had big shoes to fill by taking on the role of Carole King and she more than rose to the task.
The show began with the accomplished adult Carole at the piano, immediately piquing the audience’s curiosity by saying that she had never actually wanted to be a singer. Following those first award-winning songs with her at the piano that stirred reminiscent memories in the hearts and minds of the audience members, the show shifted focus to the time when Carole was a young girl living at home with her single mom.
A humble 16-year-old who lacked confidence in herself and struggled with her body image, Carole Klein (who later called herself Carole King) had a dream to become a songwriter, despite her mother’s fears and preference that she instead become a school teacher. The unfolding of her adventures into the world of music was at times funny, while at other times soulful, lively, and inspiring. As a viewer, frequently I found myself spontaneously smiling and tapping my feet to the beat of the familiar music. I also learned how many of the songs I’ve grown to love over the years that were performed by a multitude of different artists were actually written by Carole King herself.
On a whole other level, I was moved by the songwriter’s incredible courage and ability to love, even when her husband began to struggle with severe mental health challenges. Even though her childhood was cut short by becoming a teen parent, she forged forward with humility, integrity and authenticity. Learning about how her life offered her inspiration for her songs filled me with an even deeper appreciation of not only her music but also of Carole herself.
In our current time of the Me-Too Movement as women are re-claiming their sense of worth and personal power, this artistic rendition of perhaps the most pivotal period in Carole King’s life couldn’t be more timely.
The messages of empowerment, acceptance, and self-love that characterized the entire production, ending with Carole King’s song “Beautiful” left me and others present for this slice-of-life show filled with greater hope for ourselves and about the human condition.
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical by Broadway Across Canada is playing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver until 18 November 2018. Tickets at: http://broadwayacrosscanada.ca/canada.html
~ reviewed by Theresa Nicassio PhD
The How and the Why was an emotionally powerful experience, with both the writing and the performances deep and riveting. How and why do women attempt to balance their professional ambitions, family and relationships? This play digs into these questions while proffering scientific theories on menstruation. The answers, in the end, are not the point of the discussion. There is more at stake in our own identity than the how and why of our gender.
Aenigma Theatre brought together a group of talented women to produce this play and it shows. Every moment was absorbing and significant to the story.
If you are interested in the difficult choices women face, the science of menstruation and the art of theatre, you will not want to miss The How and the Why.
The How and the Why by Aenigma Theatre is playing at Studio 1398 until 17 November 2018. Tickets at:
~ reviewed by Melody (and Justine) Owen
This is a student production so be prepared for less than professional level acting; the upside of student productions is the price is much more affordable. What I liked the most about the production was the staging. The sets were very creative and worked well for the play. The props, soundscape, and blocking worked well for the most part. The costumes were pleasing although they didn't tend to support an understanding of the characters.
What didn't work for me was the actor's speech. Doing Shakespeare without an English accent can be challenging but doing Shakespeare without breathing and projecting is almost pointless. Generally the actors spoke too quickly and often swallowed their lines. The action suffered by us not being able to follow the motivations and intentions of each character through their words. Given the cast were all 4th year or final year students of the theatre school it was surprising to see that they are not being schooled for the stage. Perhaps they are pursuing careers in film and video only?
The Freddie Wood theatre is a very nice small theatre with great seating and acoustics. A word to the wise - parking at UBC is expensive and the theatre is not close to the bus lines so be prepared to pay a little more for parking or walk a little farther to and from public transportation.
William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is on at UBC's Freddie Wood Theatre until Nov 24th.
Tickets at: https://www.arts.ubc.ca/events/event/much-ado-about-nothing/
~ reviewed by Evelyn McKelvie
This United Players’ adaptation of The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus is strained by an ensemble of varying experience. The haunting chants of the women helps set the stage with a sense of doom and despair although their dialogue is disjointed in many instances. Perhaps it’s my limited interest and exposure to Greek mythology, but much of the story and theatrics seemed overplayed and drawn out, other than the king’s well done monologue which addresses the ongoing debate of action vs. inaction. The message in the end is clear but I struggled with the journey.
The Suppliant Women by the United Players is playing at the Jericho Arts Centre until 2 December 2018. Tickets at: http://www.unitedplayers.com/Pages/Season.html
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
Man meets woman after the war. They connect. A flashback to WWII to the beginning of the story. The stories of the men in a Stalag Luft III POW camp are being enacted by seven women. The play is based on the recollections of playwright Amiel Gladstone’s Grandfather and this story was also depicted in the movie The Great Escape. The movie had an all male cast in accordance with the real characters. Yet, somehow, the women playing the roles of the men feels completely organic in today’s world.
The set design is very Spartan and reflects the different sceneries. It transforms seamlessly from an aircraft to the camp and then to the tunnel all in full view of the audience. Jacqueline Firkins as costumer cleverly dressed the performers in khaki jumpsuits and thus the women appear asexual and their references to each other by their male names seems natural. The prisoners of war tell relate to us how they spent three winters trying to escape their Nazi captors. This was done with most inventive ingenuity and at a great sacrifice. Fat from soup, pj cords, bed slats, chairs and tin cans were used to fashion tools and equipment to dig the tunnels. The last one was finished in March 1945.
Ghazal Azarbad, Raylene Harewood, Olivia Hutt, Camille Legg, Julia Siedlanowska, Naomi Vogt and Libby Willoughby were well chosen to depict the captured soldiers. With their assertive voices they convey to the audience the stories of the Allied soldiers. Some are sad and others are filled with humour.
This play is poignant with the upcoming anniversary of Remembrance Day on November 11, 2018. The Historic Theatre at The Cultch is easily accessible by public transit. It runs until November 17, 2018.
Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/three-winters/
~ reviewed by Tara K. Torme
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
Overcome stage fright and find confidence in your unique voice.
ABOUT THEATRE ADDICTS
Founded by Danielle Benzon, a self-professed theatre addict.