Show after show at Magnetic North offers stunning new takes on indie theatre
Original works produced by Boca del Lupo, Electric Company, Felix Culpa, Leaky Heaven Circus, neworldtheatre, the Only Animal, Radix, Theatre Melee, Theatre Conspiracy, Theatre Replacement, and Theatre SKAM. At the Great Northern Way Campus’s Centre for Digital Media, on Thursday and Friday, June 5 and 6, as part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Continues until June 14
If you need proof that Vancouver is one of the most exciting theatre cities on the continent, head on down to Hive2. And get on it; Friday and Saturday are already sold out.
In a way, this event feels like the happenings that used to take place in the ’60s: it is one trippy, conceptually liberating party. There are bands, booze, and performance art in the main warehouse space. From there, you can find your way to short, experimental pieces by 11 local companies. Most are performed for between eight and 10 people at each viewing.
You’ll want to maximize your time, so get there at least 20 minutes before the shows start their rotations at 7 p.m. Grab a black flag from the bucket of sand in the far left corner of the warehouse. Holding one of those will get you into the Electric Company’s The Flannigan Affair. It’s one of the best shows and one of the hardest to get into. Then find the small white sandbox and take a number for the Only Animal’s piece, which is beautiful and performed for just one person per seating. You can drop in and out of Theatre Replacement’s show almost any time you want. (Find the Christmas tree.) It’s great and very convenient if you’ve got a dozen or so minutes to fill in. Also make sure to catch the creations from Theatre SKAM (find the dollhouse) and Boca del Lupo (the knotted white rope).
In terms of cast size and production values, The Flannigan Affair is the most ambitious and polished. Jonathon Young’s playfully surrealistic text is all about the unreliability of the narrative voice. A felon masquerading as Mr. and Mrs. Flannigan’s infant son is actually the narrator of the couple’s life, but he makes the mistake of getting attached to their story and ends up trapped in a theatrical hall of mirrors. Director Kim Collier turns her long, narrow performance space into a fantastic kaleidoscope—with depth.
In the Only Animal’s ultra-intimate piece, called you and the moon in a very small room, pictures draw themselves for you in a storybook. And Boca del Lupo’s One Down is all about perspective. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the audience looks up at the action—directly up.
Jacob Richmond wrote Doll’s House 2000 for Victoria’s Theatre SKAM, and it’s a caustically hilarious satire of both commercialism in the theatre and art-house pretentiousness. One of my favourite bits takes a swipe at the much-acclaimed play The Syringa Tree, renaming it Privileged White Girl Hangs Out by a Tree and Talks About Apartheid.
Conceptually, WeeTube, Theatre Replacement’s exploration of intimacy on the Internet, is one of the most sophisticated offerings of the evening. It doesn’t hurt that it’s funny, too. Each night, audience members choose YouTube videos for the next night’s crowd. James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto show those vids, then enact the first three or four minutes of comments, LMAO. The comments include a breathtaking amount of stupidity and homophobia, but there can also be surprising intelligence and drama.
Theatre Melee’s The End Is Here!, a comedy about four survivors of a nuclear holocaust, is still finding its feet but contains horribly funny moments. Rendition, Theatre Conspiracy’s riff on Guantanamo Bay, is challenging, if conceptually underdeveloped.
See as many shows as you can.