Archives for November 2016

Topdog/Underdog: popular dog/boring dog

Aadin Church plays Lincoln and David Lloyd is Booth in "Topdog/Underdog". (David Chearello photo)

Aadin Church plays Lincoln and David Lloyd is Booth in “Topdog/Underdog”. (David Chearello photo)

I don’t know if I’ve really seen this play yet. Topdog/Underdog won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Its author, Suzan-Lori Parks, is considered by many to be an important voice in American theatre. But, in this production from Seven Tyrants Theatre, Topdog/Underdog is boring and the script looks awkward.

There are several possible explanations for this disjuncture. One is that the play just isn’t very good. All sorts of mediocre scripts have won Pulitzer Prizes. I’m lookin’ at you, The Heidi Chronicles and Talley’s Folly.

Or maybe I don’t get it. I’m a liberal Canadian white guy and Topdog/Underdog is about the experience of two impoverished and otherwise disadvantaged African-American brothers. [Read more…]

East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood. Buy your tickets now.

East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood, Andrew McNee, Chirag Naik

The wolf (Andrew McNee) and one of the little pigs (Chirag Naik) share an uncomfortable home life in Little Red Riding Hood. (Emily Cooper photo)

The East Van Panto is now officially the best holiday tradition in Vancouver—in my Vancouver, anyway.

I started loving this year’s panto, Little Red Riding Hood, the minute I entered the theatre. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being in an audience that has a whole whack of kids in it. Being swept along by their enthusiasm is like, I don’t know, surfing on bubbles.

And Little Red Riding Hood, which is the fourth annual panto that Theatre Replacement has produced and The Cultch has presented, is also the best of the bunch. That’s no knock on the others; these shows have been getting better every year. This success of the 2016 edition is due in large part to the wacky script by Mark Chavez and to Andrew McNee’s ridiculously charismatic performance in a number of roles—most notably as the giddy, sexy wolf. [Read more…]

The world’s mean these days. Take a holiday in Putnam County.

The adult-sized children of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The adult-sized children of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

If you need a holiday in innocence, check out The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The musical features three eccentric adults, but it’s the vulnerability of its six quirky kid characters that makes the piece so charming. As they compete against one another in a spelling contest, these preadolescents wear their hearts on their sleeves. You can’t help but feel for Logainne as she strains to avoid disappointing her ambitious gay dads. The home-schooled Leaf lives up to the hippie eccentricity of his name, wearing a helmet and cape at all times and communicating through a sock puppet that has more confidence than he does. And, although her parents have essentially abandoned her, Olive generously befriends the gruff, insecure William. [Read more…]

Deb Pickman receives Award for Excellence

Deb Pickman, UBC, President's Service Award for Excellence

Deb Pickman, who is co-founder and company member of shameless hussy productions, was honoured this morning in her other life as a publicist.

Congratulations to Deb Pickman!

This morning, during a convocation ceremony held in the Chan Centre, Pickman, who is used to singing others’ praises in her role as Marketing and Communications Manager for the Arts and Culture District at UBC, received the President’s Service Award for Excellence.

Yay Deb!

Celebration of Janet Wright’s life

Winston Rekert and Janet Wright in the good old days.

Winston Rekert and Janet Wright in the good old days.

Vancouver will celebrate the life of actor and director Janet Wright on Sunday, December 11, at 2:00 pm at the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston Street). The doors will open at 1:00 and there will be a cash bar.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, guest consider making a donation to the Rachel Davis Foundation (, which was created to honour the legacy of Wright’s daughter.

Brothel #9 is detailed and moving

Adele Noronha and Laara Sadiq give award-worthy performances in "Brothel #9"

Adele Noronha and Laara Sadiq deliver award-worthy performances in “Brothel #9”

It’s immersive. There are so many compelling textures in Touchstone Theatre’s production of Brothel #9 that, watching it, you feel like you’re somewhere else.

In Toronto playwright Anusree Roy’s script, a young woman named Rekha arrives in a rundown building in Kolkata, thinking that she is about to start work in a light bulb factory. But she soon finds out that her brother-in-law has sold her into prostitution. Jamuna, an older sex worker, informs Rekha that escape is impossible: Birbal, their pimp, has excellent contacts; he will track her down wherever she goes and his revenge will be violent. When a policeman named Salaudin arrives, Rekha thinks that he might save her, but Salaudin takes Rekha into a back room and rapes her. Apparently unmoved by Rekha’s cries, Jamuna makes fish curry in the main room and sings to herself. [Read more…]

Falling in love at (and with) Green Lake

With "Green Lake", Katey Hoffman continues to prove that she's a writer to watch.

In “Green Lake”, playwright Katey Hoffman continues to develop her artistic voice. Listen to it. She’s an original.

Playwright Katey Hoffman continues to be one of the most exciting new voices on the local theatre scene: not everything about Green Lake works, but a lot of it does and the script is as original as all hell.

With Cheyenne Mabberley, Hoffman wrote The After After Party, a gross-out girl comedy that was a hit at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival. That script kept its audience in giddy, breathless surprise for its entire length. To her credit—she’s an adventuresome artist—Hoffman is trying something very different with Green Lake: there’s still plenty of quirky humour in this script, but there’s also a much more serious emotional undertow.

A 13-year-old girl who calls herself Jane gets sent off to three weeks of summer camp on Green Lake. While there, she meets a 15-year-old female camp counselor named Skittles—and develops an instant crush. As the play bounces back and forth in time, we also see Jane as a 20-year-old university student trying to connect with her dad, who disappeared from her life when she was tiny. [Read more…]

Trump offended by Hamilton actor’s “harassment” of Pence

Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon addresses an exiting Mike Pence

Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon addresses an exiting Mike Pence

Last night, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was met with boos and cheers when he attended a performance of Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway.

After the performance, Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the show, read a statement from the company that began, “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” [Read more…]

Long Division: a metaphor run amok

Long Division, Pi Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Vancouver theatre

The cast of Long Division gets posey in front of Lauchlin Johnston’s elegant set. (David Cooper photo)

There should be laws—similar to child labour laws—that prevent the overworking of metaphors.

Playwright Peter Dickinson buries the heart of his play, Long Division, beneath a series of monologues that declare and develop the metaphor of mathematics so academically that almost all of the extended speeches feel more like lectures than stories.

This much is clear early on: the play’s seven characters are all connected to a traumatic event in the past. Although we don’t meet him, they refer to a male high-school student who was both bullied and mathematically gifted. As the characters reveal slivers of their memories, it seems that somebody ended up dead. [Read more…]

Canada mourns the passing of actor and director Janet Wright

Janet Wright, Canadian theatre, Vancouver theatre, Arts Club Theatre

Canadian theatre icon Janet Wright has died at the age of 71.

Iconic Canadian actor and director Janet Wright died this morning at the age of 71, after years of struggling with health issues.

Wright’s career spanned media as well as decades. Many Canadians will know her as the long-suffering matriarch Emma Leroy on CTV’s Corner Gas, but Wright’s career extended far beyond that hit series. She won the best-actress Genie Award in 1992 for the film version of Bordertown Café, and the best-supporting-actress Genie in 2003 for the TV movie Betrayed. Her film credits include The Perfect Storm, in which she played opposite George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.  [Read more…]