Archives for October 2016

Kick yourself some Butt Kapinski

Butt Kapinski: Dick on the Loose

In 2013, I got to be one of Butt Kapinski’s on-stage whores. I cherish the memory.

This ain’t a review, see? It’s a tip. And, if you know what’s good for ya, you’ll act on it. Fast.

In 2013, solo artist Deanna Fleysher brought Butt Kapinski to the Vancouver Fringe. It contained some of the best clowning I’ve seen.

Butt, the title character, is a detective with a reclusive R, the style of the show is clown noir—Butt lights the whole thing with a desk lamp that’s strapped to his back—and, although Butt Kapinski is nominally solo performances, the entire audience gets involved in hysterically immersive ways.

Now the Fringe is bringing Butt back in a new show called Butt Kapinski: Dick on the Loose. It runs November 3 to 5 at the BMO Theatre Centre.

What’s going to happen this time? Who the fuck knows? That’s part of the fun. And don’t worry; you’ll be in good hands. Fleysher has won awards at the Hollywood, Edmonton, Calgary, Orlando, Adelaide, and Vancouver Fringe Festivals.
Jump. Go for it. Just jump.

BUTT KAPINKSY: DICK ON THE LOOSE, by Deanna Fleysher. In the Grant D. Burnyeat Rehearsal Hall from November 3 to 5.

Recommended. Get tickets here:

Bakersfield Mist: mediocre script, strong production

Bakersfield Mist, Nicola Cavendish, Arts Club, Jonathon Munro

Nicola Cavendish’s role in Bakersfield Mist might have been custom-tailored for her. She looks fantastic in it.

Bakersfield Mist is raucously funny sometimes and even moving in moments, but the script isn’t as smart as it pretends to be.

LA playwright Stephen Sachs drew inspiration for Bakersfield Mist from real-life characters and events. In the early 1990s, a retired long-haul truck driver named Teri Horton bought a big painting as a gag present for a depressed friend. She found it in a thrift store in San Bernardino and paid five bucks for it, having talked the owner down from eight. Her friend thought the painting was ugly and she couldn’t get it into her trailer anyway, so Horton tried to hawk the canvas at a garage sale. That’s when a local art teacher told her she might have a Jackson Pollock on her hands. Horton’s response, “Who the fuck is Jackson Pollock?”, inspired the title of the 2006 documentary made about her adventure, Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? The trucker quickly found out who Pollock was. She also discovered that, if her “Pollock” was authentic, her five-dollar purchase could be worth fifty million. [Read more…]

Suitcase Stories packs a punch

Suitcase Stories, Maki Yi, Pacific Theatre

Maki Yi’s Suitcase Stories is a gift.

Sometimes, when you see a show, you know that an artist is offering you a personal gift. That’s what it’s like with Maki Yi’s Suitcase Stories. The script isn’t perfect, but both the play and production are important, skilled in many ways—and heartfelt.

In her solo text, Yi recounts her experience as a would-be immigrant from South Korea to Canada. The opening movement, in which she documents her first impressions of our country—including her perceptions of what race means here—is disarming. When she arrives at Pearson International Airport, she is shocked: “I thought I came to the West, and the West means to me white people” she admits, before acknowledging that she also expected to see some people of colour, but they would be servants and gang members. Admitting that she has learned most of what she thinks she knows about Canada from American movies, Yi turns a fun-house mirror on us. [Read more…]

Empire of the Son also rises

Empire of the Son, Tetsuro Shigematsu, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, the Cultch

Tetsuro Shigematsu’s Empire of the Son is one of the best shows ever to come out of Vancouver.

Go see Empire of the Son.

Below, I’ll paste the review I wrote of Empire of the Son last year when Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre first mounted Tetsuro Shigematsu’s account of his relationship with his father. That run sold out before it opened. The holdover sold out. Now it’s back at the Vancity Culture Lab from November 1 to 13.

Book now. It’s one of the best shows to come out of Vancouver. Ever.

Okay, here’s my review from 2015: [Read more…]

Straight Jacket Winter: major charm, minor disappointment

Straight Jacket Winter, Théâtre la Seizième

In Straight Jacket Winter, Julie Trépanier and Frédéric Lemay lounge in their underwear. It’s enough to give ennui a good name.

It’s charming. It’s innovative—even daring. And then it peters out.

In Straight Jacket Winter, co-writers Esther Duquette and Gilles Poulin-Denis tell an autobiographical story about the alienation they felt when they moved from Montreal to Vancouver in 2011.

Duquette and Poulin-Denis have both worked a lot with Théâtre la Seizième and Duquette is the company’s new artistic and managing director but, as fresh arrivals to Vancouver, their on-stage counterparts complain bitterly about the state of theatre in Terminal City: “There’s no exploration of form!” [Read more…]

Exciting descent into Three Stories Up

Mack Gordon, Marisa Smith, Three Stories Up, Alley Theatre, Level-Headed Productions

To keep the actors’ identities secret, director Marisa Smith and playwright Mack Gordon are appearing in the publicity photos.

After I stopped panicking, things got really, really good.

Three Stories Up unfolds entirely in the dark. Ushers lead blindfolded audience members into the performance space in small groups. When the lights go out, everybody takes their blindfolds off, but it’s pitchy black in there: floating-in-space darkness. I’m claustrophobic and my first thought was, “How the hell did I get myself into this? ”Sweat formed on my brow. Then I recognized one of the actor’s voices, which was reassuring. And I remembered that the company made it clear that you can leave if you have to. So, you know, if you’re an anxiety-ridden feline like I am, attending Three Stories Up might be challenging at first. But don’t worry; you’ll be fine. And you should catch this show because it’s very, very rewarding. [Read more…]

In Mamahood, Nicolle Nattrass doesn’t go deep enough to become Everymama

Nicolle Nattrass, TJ Dawe, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, Firehall Arts Centre

This is the only image I can find for “Mamahood: turn and face the strange”. So sue me; I’m a blogger.

I’m finding it impossible not to damn Mamahood with faint praise. There’s nothing really wrong with this show, but there’s nothing arrestingly right about it either.

In her solo work, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, writer and performer Nicolle Nattrass tells us about her first and only pregnancy—she conceived on the eve of her fortieth birthday—the delivery of her son, and her postpartum depression. [Read more…]

The right night for Fight Night


Fight Night, The Cultch

Belgians, including Angelo Tijssens, who is the referee/host of Fight Night, are a lot more fun than they look.

They were manipulating the hell out of me and I loved it.

In Fight Night, which is produced by a bunch of companies led by Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed, politics becomes a literal game. Five actors vie for audience members’ votes and everybody in the crowd gets a little keypad that allows us to register our preferences in four elimination rounds.

Here’s the thing: as in Donald Trump’s presidential bid, none of the campaigns are based on policy. As in the Brexit referendum, the outcome could very well defy logic.

Mostly, the campaigns are based on likeability, on the ephemeral quality that we identify as trustworthiness. When we first meet them, the players are all wearing boxers’ robes; the set, like that on TV’s The Voice, is designed to look like a boxing ring. Wearing his robe, a contestant named Michai looked scruffy and I interpreted his gestures as defiant. But, when he doffed the robe, he was wearing a stylin’ cardigan that made me like him and see him as edgy. Taking advantage of that spin, he soon declared himself an underdog. [Read more…]

At Studio 58, Angels in America is angelic

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Studio 58, Prior Walter, Julien Galipeau

Prior Walter (Julien Galipeau) slaps on some lips. Pro tip: next time, apply your rouge under your cheekbones, not on them.

Yesterday, I saw the last performance in Studio 58’s run of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. Because the show is over, this isn’t really a review; it’s more of a shout out to some outstanding talent.

Let’s not forget what a work of genius Tony Kushner’s script is: Kushner’s examination of American culture and politics through the lens of the AIDS crisis is monumentally original—smart, moving, and hilarious. Congratulations to Studio 58 for producing it. [Read more…]

King of the Yees is a muddled fairytale

Milton Lim and Jovanni Sy have fun in King of the Yees.

Milton Lim and Jovanni Sy have fun in King of the Yees. (David Cooper photo)

If you’re planning to attend King of the Yees, I suggest you arrive at intermission: in terms of the story, the first act is almost entirely irrelevant.

In this new script, playwright Lauren Yee offers a playful, heartfelt—and metatheatrical—take on Chinese-American identity. In the set-up, a character named Lauren Yee, who is also a playwright, is trying to rehearse a script in the hall of a family association that has long been a fixture in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Things go awry when Lauren’s father Larry gets mixed up in a political scandal, which also tangentially involves a Chinese gang. [Read more…]