Fall arts preview: Theatre critics' picks: Sex, thrills, genius hit the stage
This may be the most promising fall on theatrical record.
At the Cultch, executive director Heather Redfern has put together a terrific season that includes 16 theatrical offerings. Blind Date and Dickens’ Women are both in the list of picks below. And the Cultch’s presentations in 2013 include Extraction, Theatre Conspiracy’s exploration of the relationship between Ft. McMurray and Beijing, and the famed clowns of horror Mump & Smoot.
The Arts Club is presenting an impressive 14 shows at three venues, including SantaLand Diaries and Ride the Cyclone, from Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville. Want to check out some gasp-inducing talent? Check out Ride the Cyclone.
And, in its 30th year, the Firehall Arts Centre is gearing up for its most ambitious season ever. You can read more about Chelsea Hotel and Hotel Bethlehem further down.
Invest in a subscription at any of these venues, but leave enough money in your pocket to play the field.
(September 18 to October 7 in the Cultch’s Historic Theatre)
In master improviser Rebecca Northan’s show, she invites an unsuspecting guy up from the audience and they act out a date.
The Draw: Northan is sexy. I mean, I’m gay and I can tell that she’s sexy. She’s also kind: she even provides a little time-out area where the lucky/unlucky audience member can go for a break—and maybe get a little nerve-soothing from Northan.
Target Audience: Gentle voyeurs.
A Beautiful View
(September 26 to 29 at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s)
Two women accidentally seduce one another, each thinking, mistakenly, that the other person identifies as lesbian.
The Draw: Acting. When Ruby Slippers Theatre first mounted this production in 2009, Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown delivered a flawless duet in Daniel MacIvor’s funny, compassionate play.
Target Audience: Folks with more to ’em than meets the eye.
(October 3 to November 3 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
In writer and director Tracey Power’s exploration of the Leonard Cohen songbook, a character called the Writer remembers past loves as he searches for inspiration.
The Draw: Talent. Buckets of it. In this show, which first went up last February, musical director Steve Charles’s arrangements thrill, all-star cast members (including Rachel Aberle, Lauren Bowler, and Benjamin Elliott) play a crazy variety of instruments, and director Power just keeps the surprises coming.
Target Audience: Fans of Leonard Cohen—whether or not they know they’re fans when they go in.
(October 16 to 28 at the Anderson Street Space, 1405 Anderson Street on Granville Island)
Local poets Elizabeth Bachinsky, Marita Dachsel, and Jennica Harper explore themes of feminism, sexuality, and identity. In Electric Company’s creation of theatrical installations based on this work for the Vancouver International Writers Festival, director Anita Rochon heads a stellar team that includes actors Haig Sutherland and Colleen Wheeler, and projection designer Candelario Andrade.
The Draw: You noticed sexuality in the theme list, right?
Target Audience: Women and the people who know them.
Far Side of the Moon
(November 1 to 10 in the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre)
In Robert Lepage’s masterpiece (the Ex Machina production will be presented here by Théâtre la Seizième in collaboration with PuSh), a man named Philippe finds himself adrift in the universe after his mother’s death. In the Cold War backdrop, the United States and the Soviet Union explore space.
The Draw: Genius. I’ve seen thousands of shows. This might be the best.
Target Audience: Adventurers—emotional and artistic.
(November 15 to December 1 at the Cultch)
In this solo show, British star Miriam Margolyes plays 23 of Charles Dickens’s characters and explores the life of the man himself, including his darker aspects.
The Draw: Blue ribbons. With this show, Margolyes has won rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and the Guardian, which said she “strikes gold”.
Target Audience: Readers. Huddle together for warmth. Light a torch against the gathering darkness.
Winners and Losers
(November 22 to December 1 at the Gateway Theatre’s Studio B)
Marcus Youssef and James Long, the show’s creators, play a game in which they categorize people, places, and things as winners or losers. How would you categorize Tom Cruise? Okay, too easy. How about rainforests? How about your dad?
The Draw: The dudes. In previous shows with other collaborators, Youssef (Peter Panties) and Long (Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut) have delivered the goods—the thrilling, experimental, theatrical goods.
Target Audience: Winners and losers. Let your date decide your status after you see this co-pro from Theatre Replacement and Neworld.
(November 28 to December 22 on the Arts Club’s Revue Stage)
Joe Montello has adapted David Sedaris’s memoir about working as Crumpet, a Christmas elf, in Macy’s. Rudolph is a victim of homophobia. The Macy’s layout includes a Vomit Corner.
The Draw: John Murphy is directing Ryan Beil doing comedy by David Sedaris. It’s kind of like the three wise men—upside down.
Target Audience: Cynics and the softies who love them. The script is witty but not heartless.
(December 12 to 15 at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and December 18 to 23 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
In Drew McCreadie’s script, Joseph and his wife Mary arrive at an inn, where a couple of old Jewish shepherds are trying to deliver a lamb in the stable using a silent water birth. After that, things get wacky.
The Draw: John Murphy plays the innkeeper like a prototypical Basil Fawlty.
Target Audience: Silly people.
Ride the Cyclone
(January 22 to February 16 at the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage)
In this audacious musical from Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville, members of a fictional high-school chamber choir from Uranium, Saskatchewan, return from the dead—they were killed in a roller-coaster tragedy—to sing about their brief, thwarted lives.
The Draw: Flammable talent. The young writers and performers are so gifted you’ll want to douse yourself in flame retardants.
Target Audience: Thrill seekers.