Thursday, March 22, 2007

Soul Food Menu: Grace, Sinner/Saint, Shrew, Jewish Film Fest, Bigger Than Jesus, Amazing Grace, Adam's Apples...

Pacific Theatre
Closes Apr 14

Over at the Pacific Theatre blog I’ve posted a fascinating article from Sojourners magazine about about the premiere production of our current mainstage show, GRACE. I saw the opening last Friday, and under the direction of Angela Konrad it’s an electric show: Act One is very funny indeed, something I never expected when I read the play on the page, and Act Two as powerfully provocative as ever I expected.

Colin Thomas lauds the show, celebrating all four performances and singling out Kerry van der Griend as “stellar.” He calls the show “provocative, funny, and consistently engaging… A stimulating ride to hell.”

It’s there for a shorter run than usual, so move fast.
731-5518 /


Pacific Theatre
SINNER/SAINT: Rage Against the Extremes!
Mar 27: Free Performance, 8pm
Mar 30 & 31: After GRACE at 10:15 pm (Pay-what-you-can or free with GRACE tickets)
No reservations necessary

Another of Pacific Theatre’s terrific Apprentice Showcase projects: the world premiere of Tina Teeninga’s RIVER BOTTOM BABY, along with John Lazarus’ BABEL RAP and Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD. Directed by Spencer Capier and Tina Teeninga, starring Lori Kokotailo, Kirsty Provan and Alison Chisholm.

RIVER BOTTOM BABY is the tale of one woman’s search for true identity as impending blindness and a dark secret overwhelm her sense of self. BABEL RAP, a beloved favorite by John Lazarus, is hilariously pointed and thoughtful in the vein of absurdist theatre. Julie Jensen’s CABBAGE HEAD wraps up the night with a story of silliness and social criticism.


Theatre at Trinity Western
To Mar 31

Wow! Saw this last night, and have already booked tickets for Saturday night to see it again – all the way out in Langley. I liked it that much. Director Aaron Caleb sets a comic pace that’s giddy, saturated with endlessly inventive physical comedy. The cast throws themselves at the script with heedless abandon, and it works splendidly. And oh my gosh, do they look amazing! In the best costumes ever from Jessie-winning designer Nicole Bach, whose 1950s Italian setting invokes LA DOLCE VITA, or an Ingrid Bergman / Roberto Rossellini collaboration. Wow.



Fifth Avenue Sat Mar 24, 2pm
Fifth Avenue Sun Mar 25, 9:30pm
One of my favourite theatrical experiences was a production of CHERRY DOCS Katrina Dunn directed a few years back at the Cultch, an intense two-man show about a compassionate Jewish legal aid lawyer assigned to defend an unrepentant neo-Nazi skinhead. The production I saw layered the story with scripture, a provocative exploration of hatred and the limits of forgiveness. Canadian David Gow co-directed this 2006 screen adaptation. No guarantee it’ll see a general distribution: see it now!

Fifth Avenue, Fri Mar 23, 9:15pm
Fifth Avenue, Mon Mar 26, 9:15pm
Norman Rothstein Theatre, Wed Mar 28, 7pm
Looks like this one also has a stage pedigree. “A German-Jewish journalist receives a polite letter asking him to speak at a school about his daily life as a "Jewish fellow citizen" to a group of German schoolchildren. Goldfarb can’t imagine what would be of interest to kids regarding his very ordinary life and declines the invitation. His attempt to write his letter of refusal develops into a monumental settling of accounts in which he starkly confronts Germany's dark past and his German-Jewish identity. Goldfarb enters into an amazingly intense monologue on the post-1945 German-Jewish relationship. As he confronts his mask of an “ordinary” Jew, he recognizes that his life, along with his Jewish heritage, is very unordinary. Becker’s stage performance is powerful and thought-provoking.”

Fifth Avenue, Thu Mar 29, 7:30pm (before “Fired”)
And this fifteen-minute sketch looks to be just for fun: maybe the appeal is imagining Dan Amos and Nathan Schmidt hauling that park bench out of storage and reprising their characters from THE QUARREL. “Waiting for Woody Allen, a parody of Samuel Beckett's classic “Waiting for Godot,” is a tragic comedy about two quarrelsome Hasidic men, Mendel and Yossel. Disillusioned with religion, therapy and their own friendship, they wait on a bench in Central Park for Woody Allen to come and give meaning to their lives.”


And don’t forget the celebrated BIGGER THAN JESUS, a bit of a Canadian theatre phenomenon, in Vancouver for a one-week run at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre: a high-concept one-man-show about Our Guy Who Art In Heaven. Looks inventive, funny, and probably (hopefully) more. Worth a gamble.

And STEEL MAGNOLIAS closes at Gallery 7 this Saturday.



AMAZING GRACE is – or ought to be – the new buzz-film among Christian movie buffs, and it opens this weekend at the Fifth Avenue and SilverCities Riverport and Coquitlam. Sure it’s got some melodrama, and the script may be over-written at one or two points, but those are quibbles: the story of William Wilberforce’s struggle to outlaw the slave trade stirred me deeply, and I recommend it. Superb companion piece to AMISTAD.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Fifth Avenue and Cinemark Tinseltown) is next on my gotta-see list, a German film about life during the cold war. PAN’S LABYRINTH continues at the Clova and Granville 7 cinemas, the best general release film of 2006 in my opinion: visually brilliant, see it before it leaves the big screens.

The trailer for BREACH (Hollywood 3 and Granville 7) sure did catch my interest, a fact-based story about a man accused of spying against the US government that foregrounds his impassioned (fanatical?) Catholic faith. The fun-looking FIDO, lensed by Vancouver (Christian) cinematographer Jan Keisser, opened last weekend and continues at a ton of theatres; Colossus Langley, Paramount Vancouver, SilverCity Coquitlam, SilverCity Mission, SilverCity Riverport, Station Square 7, and Empire Studio 12 Guildford.

And starting this next week, a limited-run engagement of ADAM’S APPLES (Mar 30 – Apr 2, 5) at the VanCity Theatre, Vancouver International Film Centre. Utterly fascinating.

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