Tag Archives: Review

Nicole Alivojvodic Reviews Bears On Now At The Cultch Till May 12th

10 May

BearsFrom Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and Punctuate! Theatre comes this dark comedy about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Written and directed by Matthew MacKenzie, Bears strives to increase dialogue about the devastating effects economic greed is taking on the lands of our country’s First Nations peoples. Beautifully performed by a group of talented actors and dancers, the audience was brought to their feet in a standing ovation on opening night.

The story follows Floyd, the prime suspect in a workplace accident at an Alberta oil refinery, who, while being pursued by the RCMP, makes an epic westbound trek through the Rocky Mountains along the route of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. While Floyd embarks on this journey, a chorus of contemporary dancers embody his natural surroundings – impressively bringing to life everything from strawberry bushes, to spawning salmon, to an avalanche.

For tickets to this unapologetically political production, on now until May 12 at Historic Theatre, visit The Cultch.

By Contributing Writer: Nicole Alivojvodic

Nicole Alivojvodic Reviews Butcher On Now At The Cultch Till March 31st

22 Mar

TheButcherPhotoByTimMathesonNot for the light of heart, this stage thriller is brought to The Cultch by Prime Cuts Collective, a company formed exclusively for the purpose of producing Butcher in Vancouver. Written by Nicolas Billon, this play is a dark and suspenseful exploration of the nature of justice and revenge, earning a standing ovation on opening night. Starring Peter Anderson, Lindsey Angell, Noel Johansen, and Daryl Shuttleworth, Butcher’s all-star cast keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.

While the story is inspired by very real historical atrocities, the play is set in Toronto and centers on the history and politics of the fictional Eastern European country “Lavinia”. Impressively, an entire language, “Lavinian”, was created for the purpose of this play and learned by the cast. The language has Slavic roots and can actually be understood quite well by anyone familiar with a Slavic language.

Butcher brilliantly captures themes relevant to recent and ancient history at the same time. While the main plot draws on real civil conflicts that occurred less than 30 years ago in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, the themes of penance and blood vengeance point back to the writings of Aeschylus and explicitly draw on the tropes of classical Greek tragedy. Billon takes these seemingly archaic concepts and shows how truly prevalent they are in the modern world. Further, while Butcher speaks to atrocities far from home it maintains a distinctly Canadian voice, alerting us to our place in these global histories.

For tickets to this clever and powerful play, on now until March 31st at Historic Theatre, visit The Cultch. 

By Contributing Writer: Nicole Alivojvodic
Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Tiva Quinn Reviews Map Of The Land, Map Of The Stars Part Of The 2018 Talking Stick Festival

22 Feb

TalkingStickFestivalMap of the Land, Map of the Stars by Gwaandak Theatre achieves the unusual feat of being very educational and raising provocative questions, while at the same time presenting a dreamlike quality as theatre, dance and projected images blend to present a variety of “story beads” about life in the Yukon over the centuries for indigenous people and the various other peoples who came to the country and interacted with them.

The stories don’t seem to be told in any particular order, and not all of them feel finished, but since they are interspersed with dance sequences my usual sense of how a narrative “should” work was suspended and I was able accept the stories for whatever information or evocative power they contained. It felt more than a little bit like piecing together the things that I know about my own family – some parts make more sense than others. Some parts carry a lot of emotional weight even though it also feels like the story is incomplete or contradictory, and some parts are neat little stories that come with a moral or a punchline.

The material is heavy, light, and everything in between. The dance is in many different styles but always interesting. Highly recommended.

Map of the Land, Map of the Stars is part of the 2018 Talking Stick Festival, which runs through Saturday, February 24th. More information about this event and other festival events is available at fullcircle.ca.

By Contributing Writer Tiva Quinn

Nicole Alivojvodic Reviews PSS PSS On Now At The York Theatre Until March 4th

22 Feb

Delighting audiences in over 50 countries since 2010, Compagnia Baccalà (Switzerland)’s “Pss Pss” finally comes to Vancouver. Presented with Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, “Pss Pss” is moving and hilarious at the same time – and all accomplished while not speaking a word! But beware if you’re sitting in the front, you might get a little more involved in the show than you’d like.

Earning a standing ovation on opening night, stars Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari enthrall audiences with their daring acrobatics and impress with their perfectly pointed expression. Performed over 600 times on all 5 continents the show is remarkably fresh and fun for the whole family; you’ll be laughing despite yourself no matter your age. What’s more, anyone from any part of the world can enjoy this award winning show as it is performed in the universally understood language of facial expression and body language. Grab your kids and get down to the York Theatre to enjoy this 65-minute show unlike anything you’ve ever seen performed live before!

For tickets to this ridiculous and internationally acclaimed show, on now until March 4th, visit The Cultch.

By Contributing Writer Nicole Alivojvodic

Contributing Writer Nicole Alivojvodic Reviews Hot Brown Honey

16 Jan

HotHoneyBrownHiveUnapologetically provocative, Hot Brown Honey shatters preconceptions in an explosion of colour, culture, and controversy. From Australian theatre company Briefs Factory comes this loud wake up call featuring six fierce and talented women communicating important messages through song, dance and, most of all, humour. The 75-minute show has you itching to get out of your seat and join the party on stage – and some get plucked out of the audience to do just that!

Check your privilege at the door and get ready to make noise because “fighting the power never tasted so sweet”. Throughout the show the women tackle several culturally relevant issues such as colonization, white privilege and namely, feminism. Tangled up in colour and acrobatics the show itself smashes the preconception that women are to be silent subjects by the sheer volume of the performance, both literally and figuratively. Their open defiance of stereotypes and the patriarchal expectations of the world we live in is not only hilarious, but incredibly powerful.

For tickets to this wild and fantastic show, on now until January 27th at The York Theatre, visit The Cultch.

By Contributing Writer: Nicole Alivojvodic

Photo Credit: Dylan Evans

Review Of How Star Wars Saved My Life

12 Dec

StarWarsContributing writer, Tiva Quinn, steps outside of East Van to review an important production that just completed a short run at Performance Works on Granville Island. Although it’s completed, we wish to feature it as it provides valuable information and insight for survivors of sexual abuse.

How Star Wars Saved My Life is intended first and foremost as a cathartic experience for sexual abuse survivors and an awareness-raising piece, but it also succeeds brilliantly as an entertaining one man show. Writer/Performer Nicholas Harrison is a theatre instructor at Capilano College with a lengthy and distinguished history as an actor, writer, director, fight director and stunt performer, so it’s hardly surprising that he knows how to take deeply emotional material and make a good story from it.

The most noticeable thing about all this talent is that when Nick chooses to perform as his younger self, he sells it completely – he takes us through highs and lows of his young life with the full level of joy, fascination, shock and terror that children experience. And when he becomes more withdrawn as he gets older, he makes us feel the reality of being withdrawn and keeping secrets, as well – no small task.

The set was also a very effective piece of this performance, with a minimalist design that works brilliantly for a story where the past and the present are the two most important locations.

The play is often funny, but it’s also quite serious about the work it’s here to do. Each performance is followed by a 15-minute talkback with Don Wright, of the Vancouver Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Noa Rabin of Jericho Counseling, Nick’s therapist. Nick has given Noa permission to share information about their therapy sessions in response to audience questions so that people can learn more about what types of issues come up in therapy for sexual abuse.

In keeping with the spirit of the production to share information and resources with anyone who might need them, I would encourage any survivors who might be interested in this topic to check out Nick’s blog, which covers a lot of the same material. Another organization that provides assistance is the local chapter of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse who also provide services to trans survivors.

By Contributing Writer Tiva Quinn

Mump & Smoot In Anything At The Cultch April 25 – May 6, 2017

1 May

Mump&SmootIanJacksonHave you heard that clowns are in town? Mump & Smoot, a famed Canadian clown duo from Toronto have landed in Vancouver. They bring their latest show, Mump & Smoot In Anything to The York Theatre for a short run. Their show brings a rather twisted world straight from their imagination.  We sent our new contributing writer, Tiva Quinn, to check out Mump & Smoot.  Tiva is originally from Washington, DC and more recently lived in Alaska for a good 13 year stint. She has herself recently landed in East Van and loves it.  She will provide a fresh perspective as a newcomer to East Van. Tiva has a passion for the arts, food, the environment and storytelling.  You can find her participating either on stage or as an audience member at the monthly Story Slam held at the Cottage Bistro. Here’s what Tiva had to say about Mump & Smoot In Anything:

There were scenes during Mump and Smoot’s show where my cheeks hurt from grinning so much. But really, the best thing of all about the show was the audience. Some of you might recall that Vancouver audiences are downright famous for being a bit detached, but when I went to see Mump and Smoot in Anything, the audience cheered, we clapped and hooted for each scene, and sometimes we all chanted, “aww…” in support of Smoot, who gleefully breaks the fourth wall looking for support in his endless contests of will with Mump.

In a lot of ways, what you get is a live action cartoon show. Mump and Smoot’s love/hate relationship reminded me of Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam – except in this show the cartoon violence sometimes results in a lot of blood, and sometimes the physical or emotional wounds from characters being hilariously awful to one another take a while to resolve themselves. You can thoroughly enjoy Mump and Smoot as a dark little confectionary, or if you’re like me, and have to mull on absolutely everything, there’s enough stuff in here about the games people play to keep you going for weeks. 

Review By Tiva Quinn

Mump and Smoot in Anything is being performed at the York Theatre from May 2 – 6, 2017. Tickets are available from $20 through The Cultch.

Photo Credit: Ian Jackson

 

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