Reviews

  • Last night I had the pleasure of attending Ballet BC’s Program 2, a unique collection of works in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. While it is traditional for Ballet BC’s programs to include a world premiere work, this evening featured not one, but three world premieres! All four pieces were created in collaboration with BC companies, designers and artists, in line with Artistic Director Emily Molnar’s vision of supporting the work of Canadian choreographers.

    Before the performance began, Molnar spoke to the importance of unity and togetherness in the artistic community, now more than ever. Using artistic expression to bring...

    Alexis Fletcher and Kirsten Wicklund in Swan by Wen Wei Wang – photography Cindi Wicklund
  • Freeman’s 1971 classic is well presented in the spare but perfect space of the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Anyone familiar with early 70’s rundown institutional design and maintenance should viscerally respond with phantom aromas of the vintage nicotine colour palette and poorly maintained porcelain and badly procured paint and cleaning supplies. The set design, faithfully detailed by Lauchlin Johnston, wafts off the stage to create the perfect hopeless venue for institutional hopelessness and despair, seemingly only steps away from the realms ruled by the monarch of orderly sadism, Nurse Ratched. There is a Godot-like quality to the explorations of the...

  • Brothel #9 by Anusree Roy is the result of a partnership between the Diwali Festival and Touchstone Theatre, bringing a second production of this Canadian play to life, simultaneously celebrating both Canadian theatre and cultural diversity. This is true to Touchstone Theatre’s mandate to “stimulate public interest in Canadian cultural perspectives.”

    I was dismayed to hear that Brothel #9 is the last production that Katrina Dunn will direct for Touchstone Theatre. Touchstone Theatre’s productions directed by Dunn have been a consistent joy to attend. Roy Surette is coming back to be Touchstone Theatre’s Artistic Director following Dunn’s 19 year reign,...

    Photo credit: Tim Matheson
  • I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of Ballet BC. I was delighted to discover Vancouver’s resident contemporary dance company when I moved here from England three years ago. Even within that short time they have grown in stature, exuding a quiet confidence in all they do. They have become highly respected by audiences, critics, and choreographers alike. The success of the company is, in large part, down to director, Emily Molnar, who skilfully broadened the appeal of Ballet BC without compromising an ounce of its artistic integrity. She has continued to push the...

    photo by Cindi Wicklund
  • The Women of Papiyek opens with Elizabeth, Martha and Taqood naming: the naming of those who are gone but who must be remembered. Transcending time and space, the women themselves are dead but are stuck in some kind of limbo looking for a way to the next level of existence.

    The Women of Papiyek recounts the story of the three women, real women who once lived in what is now called Brockton Point in Stanley Park.

    It turns out that the three women are of different ages and different eras but that was difficult to determine and...

  • 1973. Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected president, beloved by the people as a reformer and nationalizer, is overthrown in a CIA-initiated coup that brings to power General Pinochet. Hundreds of thousands of Chileans, identified by the new regime as threats to the nation, communists, and dangerous radicals, are rounded up, herded into sports stadiums, threatened, jailed, executed. Many endangered people flee the country. Anywhere But Here, a new work in first draft form by Carmen Aguirre, unfolds the story from the eyes of the children of a family who fled, then split up, and what happens when some of them...

  • Betwen us, the Plank Review Team has seen every single show at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Like you, we all have different tastes, so we thought a few of us would share our favourites thus far. We'll have a more complete list from the full team after the festival, but here's a little something to help whet your whistle.

    If you're having trouble with the Fringe's regular website, the ticket site still seems to be working: https://tickets.vancouverfringe.com/

    Julia Fox
    Walk the Talk -  innovative and artsy to the max
    Generation Hot Program B - 3 amazing shows in 1 about a very current...

  • Leaving the life of the American demimonde for anthropology, survivor guilt and Asian primates is a wild ride for Holly, the ex-showgirl turned wannabe ape rescuer. This detailed reading of Jenn Griffin’s play, The Long Call, directed by Heidi Taylor, IS a wild ride. Funny at times, touching, a little bit menacing—who is Jack, what does he really want, and how is this going to end? I found it really fascinating to be witness to the process of developing this play, as reportedly the actors had only finished a cold-reading, and sound design was ongoing improvisation during this performance....

  • The Nether is a delightfully textured piece about catharsis, crime and how to navigate ethics and morality when reality isn’t reality any more. It will make you feel—disgust, temptation, anger, shock, love, sympathy, sadness, horror and pleasure; perhaps all at once—and it will make you think. Is this where we’re headed in our society? What would it mean for what we call our lives? Our identities? Is this “Nether” a blessing or a curse?

    Written by Jennifer Haley, the Vancouver Fringe incarnation of The Nether was produced by Redcurrant Collective, a local company including many faces that will be familiar...

  • Frances Koncan has written a bold exploration of white male power, residential schools and oppression, whether formally institutionalized or directly ingrained in our psyche.

    As we follow our young heroine through time and space, we visit a residential school where children are stripped of everything from their clothing to their dignity and identity; a white man’s 90s basement where he holds indigenous women hostage; and a post-apocalyptic future where men are nothing more than furniture.

    At first the transitions can be hard to follow between the different times and places but if you let go of your...

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