Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Maple Route by Jeremy Scarth Bowkett - Theatre Incarnate @ PTE Colin Jackson Studio

Theatre Incarnate are known for edgy, sometimes quirky, and often controversial productions, so it may seem strange that the company have worked with local playwright Jeremy Scarth Bowkett to develop a 3 act epic about a moment in Canadian History. The company's departure is our gain, as we get the opportunity to see a shocking and truthful glimpse of the life soldiers lead when they return to civillian live. Under the measured and specific direction of Christopher Sobczak, the play and performers catapult through this challenging time. Things appear normal at first as we see Cam and Alexa in what are clearly the early stages of their re-united marriage, however we quickly see that Cam is a boiling pot with the lid rattling, waiting to burst. Just like that pot, Cam bubbles and eventually explodes, his confusion and rage at what he experienced in the former Yugoslavia rendering him unrecognizable to his wife. With a text this filled with angst, there is the potential for over-doing it, however every moment of Karl Thordarson's portrayal of Cam is truthful. Toby Hughes as Cam's reservist buddy Dean offers a believable lovable hoser, bringing much needed release of tension with his comic timing, and Theresa Thompson's Alexa is a believable troubled but loving army wife.

3 acts may seem long, but the production does not feel that way; rather it feels as if we in the audience are sitting on a runaway railway car, careening toward a mountainside as the play progresses.

This notwithstanding, the script could continue to be developed; some scenes felt they could be trimmed just slightly to achieve an even more explosive effect. Additionally the voice of Alexa wasn't quite as clearly developed as the other two characters, which under less steady direction could be clunky.

That said, this is a production that you need to see. An important story, well told, and pieced together artfully by a fantastic company. Go see this play!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Flood Contro by Marilyn Anne Campbelll - FemFest 2013

FemFest prides itself on presenting new work by Canadian Female artists each year, and Marilyn Anne Campbell is definitely a playwright I am grateful to FemFest for bringing our attention to.

This is a smart and funny script, with lovely dark undertones, which focuses on Gina and Ray, two adults who meet on a bridge with the common intention of killing themselves. As the play unfolds, we identify with the hilarious neuroses of each of these characters, whether it is Ray's fear of turning 40 without having kissed a girl, or Gina's obsession with the location of coasters and ensuring things are completed. Hope McIntyre's direction brings a lovely ebb and flow to the text, matching the many pieces of river imagery, meandering smoothly in and out of the conversations with a strong sense of truth. And the performances by Elena Anciro and Grant Burr bring an enjoyable life to the story.

My only quibble is that I would like more! Coming in at 37 minutes, I only just started to feel I got to know them, and the wrap up in the final minutes felt quite quick. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vacant Circumstances: this and something else - Dong Kyoon Nam @ Aceartinc

Dong Kyoon Nam's solo show at the Ace Art gallery is a collection of 5 installations, each of which uses common household items in a provocative way, calling attention to our reliance on objects and the frightening control they can have on our lives.

The most striking pieces for me were Event Horizon and Just Once.

Event Horizon consists of clock timers and fluorescent light fixtures mounted on a long wall, and a short bit of the perpindicular wall adjacent to it. The lights glow down on the wall, reminiscent of hip nightclub lighting, but as you approach the installation, the incessant ticking of the clock timers grows louder and louder, to a point where it is overwhelming. It immediately called awareness to our obsession with time; i caught my thoughts wandering in that direction, and had to remind myself i wasn't in a hurry. What is even more interesting is that upon hearing the ticking, even walking to other parts of the gallery where I had previously stood unaware of the sound, the sound resonated (whether actually or just in my head I couldn't say).

Just Once is created of two tall fans, clicked on and facing toward one another, wrapped in white extension cords. I could not help but think of the fans as two lovers, facing one another, trapped in embrace. The human quality of these two fans pushing at one another non-stop triggered thoughts of the constant barrage of sound and intensity we often throw at our loved ones, without pause to listen and take them in.

This is an excellent show, and it is free - so I highly recommend you check it out!