Scar Tissue, cost The Triumph of Life Over Loss, unhealthy is at the Arts Club Revue Stage. On till the 28th it stars Tom McBeath and Gabrielle Rose. Written by Dennis Foon and based on Michael Ignatieff’s novel it’s mostly an examination of an artist’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease and the effect on her husband and sons. One adult son particularly wants to solve a mystery around his mother and tries for the connection with her that he never had that will bring some resolution as he watches her memories fade away. It’s moving and heart-breaking and a lesson to keep close to our families while we can. Excellently done.
Hunchback is “a darkly romantic musical set amid the buttresses and shadows of Notre Dame Cathedral….It tells the tale of a tormented priest, web a beautiful dancer and the deformed bell ringer Quaismodo. Swept up in a vortex of lust, fear and the desire to control a destiny that will untimately destroy them all, they are consumed by love in its most potent, merciless and obsessive form.” Based on Victor Hugo’s novel and originally commissioned by the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton it is a showy circus-like musical, playing at the QE Playhouse and co-sponsored by The Cultch. It’s good-looking but ultimately boring like the captain with whom the gypsy, La Esmeralda, falls in love. Not enough time is spent setting up the dying passions of the priest and Quasimodo so you wonder why they are so enamoured of La Esmeralda, especially the priest who murders for her. She is totally in love with the captain because he arrives in golden chariot wearing a golden helmet with plumes. The men in this play are not worthy of love – maybe Quasimodo is, except for his loyalty to the priest; and the women – the captain’s fiancee, her mother and even La Esmeralda are ridiculous. Even for a musical (and I’m a huge fan of them) this is a bit much. At least Shakespeare has interesting dialogue.
The Silicone Diaries is a one-woman show written and performed by Nina Arsenault (from Toronto) about 60 surgeries and many silicone injections that transformed her from a man into a woman. Informative, medical fascinating, funny and sad, for almost two hours we are drawn into the obsessive quest for the plastic beauty of a mannequin and the people she meets along the way. In the end she obsesses about fitness and aging (as do I). Charming and open in a talk-back session she talks about the process of creating the play with her mentor from the University of Toronto from journal entries she kept throughout. It’s on at The Cultch in Vancouver till Feb. 25th. Go see it.
Presented with PUSH International this musical at the Arts Club Review Theatre was developed by Bill Richardson and Veda Hille. The text for the songs, malady sung by four young actors, are taken wholesale, or inspired, from Craigslist and are often hilarious, sometimes sad. Veda Hille created the music and made them singable. Who knew you could buy 300 penguins of all different kinds, headless dolls, or respond to people who might have seen you on the bus but were too shy to speak.
It’s been held over till Feb. 18th and is worth seeing.
I love Ronnie Burkett. He creates wonderful shows with incredible marionettes, malady each with individual personalities that he delivers. That said, his latest show, Penny Plain, was not as moving or involving as some of his others. A very grim little story about the end of the world and the decline of civility with the hope of the world a child made out of a plastic pickle jar and an old ketchup bottle (will last forever, survive the end of the world says Geopetto). Penny Plain is a blind old woman with a companion dog who wants to become a gentleman and go out and see the world before it ends. Penny interviews other dogs to be her companion – a slutty poodle and a horny chihuahua but ends up with a young girl pretending to be a dog. Strange characters float in and out, as the earth takes over, with the master puppeteer controlling everything. Worth seeing as you’ll never see anything like it. At the Cultch in Vancouver till December 17th.