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Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Mountain, A Weapon, and a Dinner Party...

Annapurna, Shadow Theatre - Funny, real, and moving, it tells the story of an unexpected reunion of a long estranged couple. Their history is revealed slowly and significantly as they each harbour resentments and scars from the past. Ullysses, in a powerful and humourous performance by Shaun Johnston, is a tortured cowboy poet who greets us in an unconventional outfit. Emma, played by Coralie Cairns, arrives at Ullysses' somewhat derelict trailer with an obvious hidden agenda and more baggage than just the large suitcases which suggest she is there to move in. The two have great chemistry together and Shadow has created a sensitive and funny show you probably shouldn't miss this theatre season.

Annapurna runs to February 5th at the Varscona Theatre. Tickets here. 

Star Killing Machine,Broken Toys - "This is absurd!" yells one of the characters... and yes, yes it is. But it is also a lot of fun and filled with some really great music. I did wish for mics, not because you can't hear every word, but because it's a rock musical and I wanted to hear it more. It's a new work and I hope that it's only an early incarnation, because I think there is a lot of future in it. Go for the music, go for the ridiculous twinkie, go for the rolling chair dance, go for the beautiful closing song, go for the quirky humour. There's a lot of reasons to see this show.

Only one show left - today at 2 pm. Tickets here. 

Disgraced, Citadel Theatre - As I woke up this morning and read my twitter and FB feed, this one feels all the more relevant. An explosive dinner party that lets you step inside the experience of those that aren't you... at least to some degree. You won't leave with answers, but you should leave with more empathy and hopefully connection. A terrific script brought to life by the perfect cast.

Disgraced runs to February 12th. Tickets here. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes and Fortune Falls - Illuminating

This past week I took in 2 very different shows, both Canadian works. 

First up was Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes produced by the relatively new company, Cardiac Theatre in the PCL Theatre at Fringe Theatre Adventures. The short (59 minutes) show tells the story of Peter Fechter, a young East Berlin brick-layer who attempts to cross the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s. As he attempts to escape he is shot and we experience a fictionalized account of what goes through his mind in those 59 minutes before he dies. The source material is true and one thing the show did for me was get me thinking and reading. Off to climb down that wikipedia wormhole. That's one of the things I love about theatre is that often it provides a glimpse of something I didn't really know much about and it sparks that interest in finding out more. The production is well done. I loved the set and lighting and the choice of the alley staging - underscoring the two sides of the wall - and the twisted barbed wire that is entangled with the detritus of Peter's (Bradley Dore) young life. It was tight and engaging and thought-provoking. 

The other show I saw was Fortune Falls presented by Catalyst Theatre at the Citadel. Catalyst Theatre started out much in the same way as Cardiac Theatre is now - a group of young U of A drama grads presenting challenging work. Fortune Falls combines many things that Catalyst has become known for, an edgy world with a unique vision. Each moment is excellently executed by it's 5 person ensemble. The music is original and tight with stand-out vocals from Jamie Tognazzini and Daniel Fong. The many characters portrayed by the ensemble are clearly defined and individual. My favorites included Braydon Dowler-Coltman's brash and larger than life Tour Guide, Shannon Blanchett's hilarious clickety-clark executive secretary (there are too many characters for me to remember names) and Graham Mothersill's East-coast factory repairman. I really loved the lighting design by Kerem Çetinel, which was brilliant and precise - no small feat in a thrust theatre - and Megan Koshka's costumes were inspired. Truly an original world created onstage. 

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes runs to January 22nd at the PCL Theatre.
Fortune Falls runs to Feberuary 5th in the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel.