Reviews

  • In April 14, 1912 two actor/dancers (Patrick Conner and Matthew Romantini) play the Marconi officers on board the Titanic– it is a time before cell phones, before even ship-to-shore telephones – anything that needs to be said to someone not on board the ship must flow through these two conduits of communication, as a result they become custodians of the most intimate and prosaic messages: “I love you”, or “I forgot to water the geraniums”.

    The third actor/dancer, Lucy Rupert, plays the doomed ship herself and therein (perhaps) lays a flaw in conception. The story of the Titanic – as...

    titanic, would you board her? Photo Credit: Lindsay Anne Black
  • Here’s a sobering fact about my allotted time on this planet: I was alive while the residential school system was in place in this country.

    While I was growing up in the safe prosperity of multi-cultural Vancouver, other children – Canadian children – were being seized from their families and taken to church-run residential schools. The objective of these schools was assimilation and the outcome was often widespread physical and sexual abuse, not to mention dislocation from family and community. It is inconceivable to me that this country – you know the one championing human rights under Pearson and Trudeau...

    where the blood mixes
  • It wasn’t lightly that I walked into Performance Works Theatre, knowing I was attending a performance about genocide. I tried to be good humored about it: “Ta-tah, off to see a little play about human atrocity – see you tomorrow!” I exclaimed to my colleagues as I left the office.

    However, I was drawn to Goodness as soon as I read about it - morality is the principal theme broached in this production by Toronto-based company Volcano, with genocide used as a narrative to discuss this weighty subject. As a person generally inquisitive about the human condition, I instantly gravitated...

    Goodness
  • Strips of white elastic hang from the ceiling. They create an ever-changing backdrop which sometimes feels like a forest, sometimes like a curtain drawn to give us sight into Townsville - a small town filled with the remaining few survivors from some unspoken world disaster. Townsville brings forth what the world would be like if it were run by a gaggle of showboaty teenagers. Sometimes insightful, sometimes self-centered, but always a full character exploration.

    The town is a supposed utopia whose joy revolves around their beloved mascot, Sylvia the invisible elephant. All is well until Ariel, a.k.a. “Applebottom” (Ella Simon),...

    Townsville, they've got talent on a string
  • For me, the success of April 14, 1912 hangs on two death scenes. One is of a man, the 1st Marconi (telegraph) Officer on board the Titanic (Matthew Romantini), drowning in the sea. Both legs and one hand are on the bare stage floor, but the rest of his body is convincingly in an environment hostile to human life. And he surrenders to it at last.

    The second death scene feels about 12 minutes long, and in a 60-minute piece, that's forever. A woman in the remnants of a sea-green gown, covered in barnacles and dripping seaweed, slowly, agonizingly, sinks...

    April 14, 1912; photo credit: Lindsay Anne Black
  • Michael Redhill's play Goodness is partly inspired by the genocide in Rwanda, as the program notes explain. Yet the veteran Toronto playwright has chosen to craft a script where the conversations about goodness, war, ethics and revenge, could apply to any of the genocides that have happened in the last century.

    A version of Redhill's self, a Michael played by Gord Rand, goes to Poland in search of those who might remember what times were like when his Jewish forbears were murdered in a town square. He's mocked - it was your tragedy? you weren't even alive! - and finds...

    Goodness
  • All the previous Magnetic North Festivals have featured a production showcasing the students and emerging artists of the host city. This year, it’s the turn of Vancouver’s The Chop Theatre in a co-production with Studio 58, Langara’s well-regarded theatre program. The Chop are probably the coolest of the younger generation of theatre companies in Vancouver.

    While they are probably best known for the Patti Fedy plays that were huge Fringe hits, it is their more recent work that is most interesting, including 2 Truths + 1 Lie = Proof (presented by Rumble at the...

    Townsville, where's sylvia?
  • Anyone who is vaguely interested in attending HIVE2 should go, at once, and not read anything about it before hand. Don’t even let anyone tell you what they saw there last night, and that includes this review. The next paragraph is safe, but the one after that should be avoided, along with all that follows.

    HIVE2 is a group of eleven site-specific, short works (5-15 minutes), all performed in different spots in an old factory. Each has been created by a different West coast theatre company. HIVE2 depends on surprise, and particularly on the audience's surprise at the different spaces...

    Theatre SKAM at HIVE2
  • In a Montreal-style apartment, a fridge door sunk inside a cityscape wall of tin cans separates reality from fiction. It is through this divider that the audience enters the theatre.

    We are the guests of the performers, they serve us, they tease us, they throw grapes at us, and then the show begins. Faon Shane, a sultry redhead, lures an audience member with an apple. Will he take it? Of course – with ready ease. “Men. They never learn.”

    Coquettishly she turns back to her roommates as a fight over the apple turns into a dance with a tablecloth 30...

    Loft, good clean fun
  • Some people – usually men and, in my experience, often English – like to make lists and rank things in order of excellence or bestness. In making their lists of the Greatest Movies Ever Made, they usually rank Godfather II ahead of the original Godfather for, of course, it is “the sequel that was better than the original”.

    Personally, I could never choose between the two Godfather films (in my world there is no III). Which was better? Who cares? I love them both. The first Godfather had great narrative thrust and plenty of verve while the second had a...

    HIVE, feel the love

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