Review

Review – The Changeling by Theatre UBC

Review by Britt MacLeod

UBC Theatre Department’s production of The Changeling at the Chan Centre’s Telus Studio Theatre provides an exciting opportunity to witness a seldom-produced piece of Jacobean-era theatre. Written by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley in 1622, the play features two separate plot threads which eventually weave together. The main thread follows the romantically-tangled Beatrice-Joanna as she makes some regrettable, brutal choices, and is further entangled by a horrifyingly violent event and its repercussions. MFA Director, Luciana Silvestre Fernandes has crafted a production that is visually stunning and dynamic with its use of the three audience levels for staging, engaging ensemble choreography, and the beautiful set and lighting design by Luis Bellassai and Zach Levis, respectively.

The big payoff of the design elements is in the way they reflect thoughtful directorial choices of thematic continuity. A network of floor-to-ceiling ropes seems to stitch the three levels of audience in with the world of the play, offering a satisfying mirroring of the appearance and the plight of the corseted (and otherwise bound) female protagonist. Charlotte Di Change’s costume design features layer upon layer of sensuous red, highlighting the bloody deeds of the quintessentially Jacobean plot.

Some design choices prove less effective. In a recognizable historical convention of supporting evil with physical variation or ‘deformity’, the character of De Flores is written as being ‘ill-faced’ to match his villainy. Though we come to understand early on (and progressively more so throughout the plot) that he indeed disturbs Beatrice-Joanna greatly, the character is portrayed by the rather handsome (and engaging) Kyle Preston Oliverwhose face is not augmented beyond a few light blotches of red makeup. But rather than offering relief at the sidestepping of the prescribed metaphor, this design choice compounds confusion about the character, because with what could be understood as the impetus of his othering being omitted in this contemporized adaptation, the Disney-villain-like proportions of De Flores become all the more glaring. That being said, the work of Preston Oliver, and of Bonnie Duff is certainly laudable. Duff’s Beatrice-Joanna is marked by impressively complex micro-expressions, courageous attack, and a natural command of the language.

Although not necessarily portraying central characters, Connor Riopel as Alonzo/Madman, Abbey Laine Schwartz as Lollio and Ishan Sandhu as Antonio (or “Tony”) are standouts, each with surges of energy, bags of charm and bold physical choices.

While the subject matter of the play undoubtedly has great potential for meaning in our current times (as might be evinced by numerous recent adaptations around the world), offering an opportunity to reflect on what the director identifies as a depiction of “the reality of trauma,” this production also raises questions for this reviewer about the ways in which theatre-makers facilitate those afflicted with trauma, actors and spectators, alike. A moment of what seemed to me to be unnecessary nudity not only added fuel to this questioning but was dramaturgically disruptive. Additionally, I wondered if the nearly 400-year-old plot, which is fixated on honour and treachery, mightn’t benefit from a more satirical edge in this adaptation. Despite, or maybe because of some of the points problematized here, this production is worth seeing, as it offers a glimpse at a rather obscure play by a couple of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and indeed raises important questions for the modern audience about rape culture and our responses to it, trauma and triggering and how theatre contributes to those conversations.

The Changeling plays nightly at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts January 16-February 1, 2020 at 7:30 pm. Ticket prices: $24.50 Adults; $16.50 Seniors; $11.50 Students. Post-show Talkback January 22. Box Office: 604.822.2678 or box.office@ubc.ca or www.ubctheatretickets.com Website: www.theatrefilm.ubc.ca Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/629550977584876/

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Review – Timothy Findley’s The Wars by Theatre UBC

Review by Veronica Blott

Another great show by the UBC Department of Theatre and Film! Timothy Findley’s The Wars adapted by Dennis Garnhum is a harrowing piece about young Canadians partaking in a war they had no stake in and no true understanding of. Although many may be familiar with Findley’s epic work from high school English class the UBC productions department truly gave the audience a unique and palpable experience as we follow Robert Ross, a young Canadian man who enters the army in 1915, across the battle field. Opening with a burst of action as the stage is transformed into a train platform by lights, sound, and fog effects all at once, director Lois Anderson’s production is gripping right from the start. The talent of the BFA actors is also well showcased throughout this production as they are challenged to express complex and difficult emotions as they watch young soldiers lie injured and dying in packed infirmaries or monologue about their son fighting a ceaseless war.

The technical elements of this show were especially noteworthy as the cast created live sounds of horses trotting, intense thunder claps and bombs crashing down on the characters. This element of the production truly added to the spectacle of The Wars on stage and was one of the effects that made this show feel so dedicated. Intricacies of costuming and props,
namely the amazing effect of having horses embodied by actors, also added to the worldmaking on stage and gave the feeling that the audience was truly witnessing something special with this production. Another decision made by the production team that was striking was leaving an extent of backstage activity revealed to the audience as makeup tables, costume racks, and lights were all exposed behind the main action of the stage. Staying for the Q&A the team discussed their motivations for this choice as wanting to emphasize the fact that the actors in this show are roughly the same age as the men going off to war and the women working in infirmaries or brothels. Although the decision to expose backstage occasionally drew focus from the narrative of the show and is not a part of how the script is written, it was a very interesting creative choice that brings a different feel to a familiar story. Overall, the technical and acting foundations of this production made for a unique experience with the narrative of World War I and really displayed the capabilities and talents of everyone associated with the UBC Department of Theatre and Film.

Timothy Findley’s The Wars plays Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm at the “Freddy Wood Theatre” on UBC campus until November 23. TICKETS: Adults: $24.50. Seniors: $16.50. Students: $11.50, Youth: $5 VENUE: Frederic Wood Theatre, 6354 Crescent Rd. BOX OFFICE: 604.822.2678 or box.office@ubc.ca or www.ubctheatretickets.com

Don’t miss this great piece of Canadian theatre!

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Beckett 19: Review

Beckett 19: Review

Beckett 19: or some such semblance
Directed by Gerald Vanderwoude

Gone too soon! Yesterday was the closing night of UBC Theatre and Film’s production of Beckett 19: or some such semblance by Samuel Beckett. This year’s Beckett production was short but very sweet with incredibly versatile performances, evocative technical design, and much appreciated humor.

Opening with a radical drum solo by Tony Koelwyn under a multicoloured spotlight Beckett 19 captured our attention right from the top. The sparse but deliberate set and lighting design created the unique character of Mouth from Samuel Becketts’ short monologue Not I. Beverly Bardal delivered this biting and breathless piece about a nearly mute woman finally exposing the trauma of her youth and the buzzing voice in her head with impressive feeling and impact. A raptured audience was then briskly transitioned into a comedic series featuring light bulbs, a hat and a squashed cream horn. This light-hearted but thoughtful comedy came with performances from Joe Procyk, Norman Young, Chris Humphreys and Cam Cronin. Another short piece written by Beckett, Biddies in the Boat, finished off the first half of the show with Beverly Bardal, Deb Pickman and a gigantic moon challenging the audience to an evening conversation in the departments famous row boat.

After a brief intermission Beckett 19 concluded with a final piece – Act Without Words by Beckett. A darkly comedic piece centred on physicality and an animated desert island rounded out the performances and brought together an amazing night of talent, humor, and contemplation. Truly hypnotic the technical design of this series stood out with their stark contrast lighting and minimal but effective use of set, props and sound. Congratulations to everyone who made this set of performances into such an enchanting evening – the UBC Players Club is looking forward to the rest of the UBC Theatre and Film’s 2019/20 season!

Review by Veronica Blott, UBCPC Production Manager

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GLORY: Review

GLORY: Review

Original cast of GLORY. Set and Lighting Designer: Narda McCarroll. Costume Designer: Cindy Wiebe. Photo: Barbara Zimonick.

Sophia Tavasieff

Ice hockey: the quintessential Canadian sport. Dominated by men in the NHL in the 1930s, the teamwork, camaraderie, and sheer brutality of the sport brings people together, even in the most desperate of times. But what happens if women give it a try?

Written by Tracey Power, GLORY tells the story of four women who did just that. Struggling to keep together a baseball team and still grumbling about their loss in the championships, four magnificent women find solace in the dreariness of the Great Depression to create one of the most fearsome women’s hockey teams of their time. They fight their way through the opinions of the disbelieving public, sexist radio announcers, media, and a coach to bring camaraderie, teamwork, and joy to people in desperate times, and show that a woman’s place is on home ice.

Helen (Kate Dion-Richard) delivered a delightfully feminine and iron-willed performance as the picture of a 1930s woman: flirty as a teen, unyielding as a mother, and an absolute powerhouse on the ice. Hilda (Katie Ryerson) was exactly as hardworking, hockey-obsessed, and earnest as you would expect a team captain to be, bringing tired teammates together in the locker room and being a talented player to boot, scoring goals in every game as she worked towards her dream job: the NHL. Her sister Nellie (Morgan Yamada) gave the show the purehearted support and strength of the best goalies. Marm’s (Advah Soudack) saucy sense of humor both diminished tenuous situations as the team was coming together, but later in the show exhibited a fortitude that showed she wouldn’t stand for discrimination, of her gender or ethnicity. She used her wit to both charm and convince the coach, Herb (Andrew Wheeler), into agreeing to coach women’s hockey. Herb doggedly agreed, and delivered the grumpy get-down-to business attitude of everyone’s favorite coach.

Original cast of GLORY. Set and Lighting Designer: Narda McCarroll. Costume Designer: Cindy Wiebe. Photo: Barbara Zimonick.

How, you may ask, did James MacDonald capture the on-ice drama of every hockey game without a rink? Invigorating electro swing choreography brought the game to life as each of the girls passed, dipped, spun, dove, and scored to the beat. Every goal was met with a triumphant yell, a red light, and the praise of teammates, before jumping right back in to the choreography, where every pass had the audience’s eyes going with it. The electro swing was an excellent choice: it kept us in the period, brought electrifying vitality to every game, and yet the electronic aspects of the music kept us feeling as fresh and upcoming as the ladies pioneering their way on ice.

All in all, GLORY debuted an uplifting performance about individuals struggling through all manners of adversity: a struggling economy, a sexist public, a racist ice rink, starting a family. But the true power of GLORY lay in the unyielding perseverance and hope that burned in every character’s heart. Through all manners of bias, disbelief, and misfortune, each and every one showed that with teamwork, determination, and hard work can get you through even the toughest of battles, on or off the ice. Go Rivulettes!

GLORY is running April 4-13 at the Gateway Theatre. If you miss the run, catch the show touring the nation until October!



GLORY by Tracy Power is running at Gateway Theatre from April 4th to 13th.

Tickets | Facebook Event | Gateway Theatre

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Cherry Docs: Review

Cherry Docs: Review


Pictured: Kenton Klassen and John Voth. Photo by Jason Benson.

Jessica Kim

In a two-actor/character comedy, a Neo-Nazi skinhead is represented by a Jewish lawyer. Hilarity ensues.

Nah, just kidding.

In 1998, Cherry Docs by David Gow premiered in Toronto. Though we don’t have manual door locks anymore, the issues discussed in Cherry Docs is still shockingly relevant.

In this Pacific Theatre’s production of Cherry Docs, Richard Wolfe’s directing catches the intensity and the beats in the dialogue perfectly. There are intense scenes with heated conversations, then Wolfe gives the audience a moment to reflect.

The duo from Cave Canem that brought us The Lonesome West last year is back with this production. Kenton Klassen and John Voth show us a different side of their dynamic. If Lonesome West was more comedic and the hatred was more driven from brotherly banter, Cherry Docs shows action and speech driven from genuine hatred and fear of each other’s character and their own beliefs.

Mike (Kenton Klassen) is a juvenile skinhead accused of hate crime and murder. Danny (John Voth) is his Jewish lawyer, but he clearly doesn’t like Mike very much. The play starts out with their monologues, showing the audience a glimpse of their lives and ideals. The simple set and intense lighting sets the somber tone, allowing the audience to focus on every word and tense at every breath the characters take. This journey frees Mike from his instilled hatred, and more importantly, from his fear and the problems he blames society for.

Pictured: Kenton Klassen. Photo by Dylan Hamm.

However, this change affects Danny as well. He puts in so much time and effort in understanding and knowing Mike, he neglects taking care of his own life. What’s worse, Mike’s fear starts to slowly infect Danny…

The lighting (Phil Miguel) and Sound (Matthew MacDonald-Bain) adds to the serious, almost film noir-esque tone of this production. The original composition is jarring and demands attention. The lighting is subtle but helps the audience focus on what Wolfe wants to direct the audience’s attention to.

We’re born into institutionalized racism, inequality, turning other races and classes into the “Other”; needing something to fear or something to hate. It’s important to take a moment and think: “Why do I do that?” or “What are my thoughts on that?” There’s really no such thing as “It is what it is.” Though there isn’t a definite one person or organization responsible, and though we may believe we always need something or someone to hate in order to keep our society in check, it may not be the truth at the end of the day. The act of separating that self and the group is crucial in the journey of self-discovery and improvement.

Catch the conversation-sparking play at the Pacific Theatre only until April 28th.



Cherry Docs by David Gow is running at Pacific Theatre from April 5th to 28th, with 8pm Wednesdays-Saturdays with 2pm Saturday matinees.

Tickets | Facebook Event | Pacific Theatre

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Review

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Review

Pictured: John Voth. Photo by Ron Reed.

Jessica Kim

The Chronicles of Narnia is more “classic” than any other works frequently discussed with it, such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, which were written decades later. It shows that it has withstood the test of time- and still more than relevant today.

I was expecting something different from Ron Reed’s adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lucy and Peter Pevensie are older now, and as they revisit the wardrobe room, they revisit their old memories… and there, I imagined Reed would take it further and write out a new adventure for them. Which he did in a way, but not like what I was expecting. He retold the story of the novel through these two characters reminiscing their journey back when they were children. The two actors playing Lucy (Rebecca deBoer) and Peter (John Voth) both played countless other characters as the story unfolded, putting on new costumes and taking on different personas.

Voth’s Mr. Tumnus and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver was especially convincing, funny and each character was drastically different. His transformation from one character to another was breathtaking and entertaining. deBoer’s White Queen was commanding and cold, and the costume (Sheila White) really let her shine opposed to her default “Lucy” attire of a long brown skirt and pink cardigan. The lighting (John Webber) was stunning as well, using different colour schemes for Narnia and the wardrobe room, and the gobos showing soft snowflakes falling was also a highlight.

Though it’s not a fan-fiction version of the novel one might expect from reading the show blurb, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe directed by Sarah Rodgers is bound to be a Holiday favourite, with beautiful set, costume, and lighting along  with the charming chemistry of John Voth and Rebecca deBoer.

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Ron Reed is running at Pacific Theatre from November 30th to December 29th, with 8pm Wednesdays-Saturdays with 2pm Saturday matinees.

Tickets | Facebook Event | Pacific Theatre

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Doubt: A Parable Review

Doubt: A Parable Review

Pictured: Tallulah Winkelman as Sister Aloysius. Photo by David Newham.

A Guest Review by our Mainstage 2017 Director, Samuel Jing

“What do you do when you are not sure…” are the memorable opening words to John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt – and exactly what ran through my mind as I walked into Vancouver’s historic Penthouse nightclub to watch a play set in a Catholic school in the 1960’s. Directed by Bill Devine, Seven Tyrants provides a memorable night of theatre-going courtesy of a talented group of actors.

Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning play follows the story of Sister Aloysius (Tallulah Winkelman) as she begins to suspect Father Flynn (David Thomas Newman) of having indecent relations with an altar boy. Doubt implores audiences to choose who they believe – the honeyed words of Father Flynn, or the steely resolve of Sister Aloysius.

Olivia Lang brings a pitch perfect level of youthful naiveté to the role of Sister James that plays well with her scene partners, especially in contrast with the seasoned Aloysius. Speaking of the good sister, Winkelman has the gravitas and maturity to bear the hefty weight of the lead role, even though her take on Aloysius comes off as more callous than sympathetic at times. Newman’s charming delivery is well suited to the gregarious Father Flynn, and makes watching his partner scenes enjoyable. While his sermons leave something to be desired in terms of energy levels, it does not bring down the performance as a whole. Despite only being present in only a single scene, Liza D’Aguilar shines bright in her portrayal of Mrs Muller. D’Aguilar shows great range in her nuanced dialogue between herself and Aloysius that makes for a memorable encounter.

One cannot discuss this production without discussing the venue. While the Penthouse’s wonderfully atmospheric speakeasy vibe is one-of-a-kind, it was more than a little jarring to transition between the wildly different atmospheres of the black box studio and the lounge area. Space is tight in black box studio itself, giving actors precious little room to block themselves, resulting in awkward and static positioning at times. Despite this, Lynda Chu’s set design brought out the best of the small performance space, with each third of the stage having its own distinct 1960’s flavour.

Seven Tyrant’s Production of Doubt boasts solid acting and a thought-provoking script that are reason enough to considering venturing out to see it – just don’t spend too long eyeing at the posters of half-naked women on your way out.

Catch the rest of the run of Seven Tyrant’s Production of Doubt, running until December 14th.

 

Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley is running at Tyrant Studios above the Penthouse Nightclub from November 23rd to December 14th. 

Tickets | Facebook Event | Tyrant Studios 

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Much Ado About Nothing: Review

Much Ado About Nothing: Review

Pictured: Matthew Rhodes and Sophia Paskalidis as Claudio and Hero. Photo by Javier Sotres.

Jessica Kim

It’s hard to go wrong with Shakespeare. The story and the script is guaranteed after the test of many decades, and tickets will sell. But while it’s hard to fail, it’s even harder to nail. How can you make something from a vastly different time from ours relevant without it seeming like the same old thing over and over again?

UBC Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing directed by Lois Anderson takes a new approach to the well loved comedy. The design of the show seems cohesive at the first glance, the different elements melding together into the overall aesthetic of the show. Upon closer inspection, one can see how it actually doesn’t make any sense, yet it works, as if the pieces from the different time periods are meant to be shown together. The set is heavily influenced by Venice and a bit of Greece, but this is more evident in the costume design (Erica Sterry). The play is set in Venice in 2018, so the actors wear modern clothing throughout the play, but the party garb has them in beautiful masks reminiscent of the Venetian ones and robes and capes with a touch of French. It did seem a little off to put the “soccer players” (the change which wasn’t too crucial in the plot, but a necessary one since there are no wars Venetians are fighting right now.) in the robes, but they changed out of their gears shortly after the scene. It was wonderful to see the revolve up and running, and the revolving set (Jacqueline Gilchrist) of the dock and the estate of Dona Leonata was beautiful and well utilized. The lighting design (Erika Champion) was also exquisite, especially for the water and for Hero’s funeral.

Replacing seven of the male characters with female actors is not only practical (this class has a higher ratio of female students) but it also gives the show matriarchal power and therefore empowerment towards women, which is always quite hard to see in theatre and Shakespeare. The actors portray these powerful matriarchs, Donna Antonia (Drew Carlson) and Donna Leonata (Tebo Nzeku) with power and pizzazz. Graydon Clark as Benedick is hilarious and he knows very well how to move his body, gliding from one position to another (literally!) The sweet Claudio played by Matthew Rhodes is heartwarming and we become more and more invested in his love story with the lovely Hero (Sophia Paskalidis).

Will Claudio and Hero be able to confirm their love for each other? Will Benedick and Beatrice get together already? Come find out at the Freddie Woods until the 24th.

 

UBC Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare is running at the Frederic Wood Theatre from November 8th to 24th, 7:30 PM Wednesday – Saturday.

 Tickets | Facebook Event | Frederic Wood Theatre

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The Wolves: Review

The Wolves: Review

Pictured: Jalen Saip and Paige Louter. Photo by Riun Garner.

Jessica Kim

I always don’t know who to relate to when it comes to teenage coming-of-age stories. None of the stereotypes fit me or my high school friends, and their issues seem unrealistic. Perhaps it’s the exaggeration of the American high school stereotypes or my strange school with much different values. Either way, it’s hard to appreciate the story and the characters fully.

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe at Pacific Theatre, in association with Spoon Theatre directed by Jamie King was sadly no exception. The writing of the characters were flat and unrelatable. Too many characters’ stories were strung along a thin plot with random events popping up without warning. It was meant to be raw and authentic, but came off at times as crass and unrefined. However, the actors portrayed their given roles exceptionally well, including but not limited to Kim Larson as #00, Shona Struthers as #25, Montserrat Videla as #14, and of course, Paige Louter as #46.

Louter embodies the awkward and off-setting character down to the smallest of movements and the delivery of the choppy, anti-social lines. She has different interests and lead a different life from the rest of the girls, who at first seem threatening and mean. As the play goes by, the girls go through character development and changes, but as mentioned before there were too many characters and very little time for everyone’s stories. The set was simple with a green turf set up, and the chaos as the girls talk and practice was well shown while not being too distracting from the main conversation. The lighting was simple, but evoked emotions during the heavier transitions.

The role of #02 was played by the understudy, Anjela Magpantay, stepping in for Amanda Sum due to her injury. Which was a bit ironic considering what happens in the play. (spoiler alert!) Joking aside, with the limited time and resources Magpantay had access to, she did an exceptional job with the role.

The Wolves is about what it means to grow up and be in a team, but also accepting your differences. Catch the production at Pacific Theatre until November 10th.

 

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe is running at Pacific Theatre from October 19th to November 10th, with 8pm Wednesdays-Saturdays with 2pm Saturday matinees.

Tickets | Facebook Event | Pacific Theatre

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Krapp’s Last Tape: Review

Krapp’s Last Tape: Review

Pictured: Linden Banks as Krapp. Photo provided by Seven Tyrants Theatre.

“Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn’t want them back.” 

Jessica Kim

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett explores the different people one can be in a single lifetime. Directed by David Thomas Newham, this production starring Linden Banks focuses on both stories, looking at how they interpret the “best moment” of their lives. Both 69-years old Krapp and 39-years old Krapp speak of youth, the past, what is supposed to be the best years of their lives, to be young, healthy and happy. However, this is all relative. To 69-years old Krapp, his youth is in the tape, in the 39 year old who met the love of his life- and wouldn’t trade anything for it. There is a moment in one’s life, though one never realizes it at the time, that is the climax, the peak- and we spend our entire lives striving for it or reminiscing it. Many believe this comes with youth, but that also is relative, to how we spend our time and how long we live, even.

The set and lighting by Newham is simple yet effective, and Banks’ performance as young Krapp is strikingly different from the man he portrays on stage. They work together to create one man at two different times, longing and striving for the same thing. The play was very Beckett-esque, with all the repetition but I particularly enjoyed the silence, where Krapp just got to “be” who he was, wolfing down bananas and sifting through old tapes.

Who is the person in your past, in recording or otherwise? Is it really you? Would you go back if you could?

 

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett is running at Tyrant Studios above the Penthouse Nightclub from October 5th to October 26th. 

Tickets | Facebook Event | Tyrant Studios 

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