‘The Gooseberry’ headlines my NextFest theatre and dance reviews for Vue Weekly

NF-2018-webiste-banner-1-1024x688.png

Vue Weekly gave me free reign of NextFest last weekend. Here are excerpts from my reviews of The Gooseberry, Where do we Begin?, Pretty Boy: The Musical, and Occupy.

The Gooseberry

… The Gooseberry is like a wreck you can’t look away from. Zena and Audrey gnaw at each other, openly antagonizing every party invitation, cooking preference and living habit. This animosity extends to the rest of the six-person cast too. Read more

Where do we Begin?

Joanna Simon and Lady Vanessa Cardona’s new theatrical work Where do we Begin? arrives as a poetic statement of reconciliation. Billed as a 45-minute land acknowledgment, the two creators take to the stage as themselves: Simon, a Plains Cree woman from here on Turtle Island, and Cardona a Columbian refugee. Read more

Pretty Boy: The Musical

Skinny Love Productions’ 90-minute, two-act original musical tackles a larger-than-life saga that’s captivating in its historical accuracy. Pretty Boy: The Musical follows the adult life of Charles Floyd (Damon Pitcher), a small-town, depression-era Oklahoma farm boy turned Robin Hood-esque criminal hero. Read more

Occupy

… One dancer glides across the stage in a wheelchair, while the other mirrors her movements atop a wheeled stool. A nurturing friendship exudes from the duet, complete with the wheelchair equivalent of trust-falls and several reclining embraces. Long moments of silence amid the vast space-like music set an introspective mood. Read more

Fantastic, homegrown theatrical art always invigorates me, and NextFest runs for four more days. You can purchase tickets at the onsite box office in The Roxy on Gateway Theatre or from the festival website.

‘Crash Pad’ art exhibition preview for Vue Weekly

Arts-Cindbaker-May10-e1525892283436

I covered Crash Pad, an engaging exhibition from Albertan artist Cindy Baker, for Vue Weekly a few weeks ago.

Edmonton artist Cindy Baker’s latest exhibition explores the fat female body through inviting blue watercolour prints and evocative, yet relaxing, performance art.

Crash Pad was first shown at the Tangled Art Gallery in Toronto last December, and it features images of diverse women at home, lounging in varying states of undress as they prepare to begin or end their days.

Baker chose Somerset paper for these prints to preserve the feel of the original watercolour paper, and within each image she presents a soft feeling of domesticity. Laundry baskets, wheelchairs, canes, furniture, indoor plants,  dogs, and cats all fill the frames in service of this goal. Read more

The exhibition runs until June 16 at the dc3 Art Projects gallery, with live performances held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

‘Infinity’ theatre review for Vue Weekly

Arts-Infinity-Apr26

I got to review one of my favourite shows of the year, Infinity, for Vue Weekly.

The story follows violinist and composer Carmen (Larissa Pohoreski), and theoretical physicist Elliot (Ryan Parker) from their first meeting at a house party, to their eventual married life together and beyond. Between their scenes filled with equal parts friction and genuine love, monologues from their mathematician daughter Sarah Jean (Caley Thomas) shift the focus of Infinity through time, as she tries to understand her place in relation to her parent’s world. Read more

My writing here doesn’t do this complex production or Hannah Moscovitch’s script justice. Definitely check it out before it wraps on May 6.

‘Undercover’ theatre review for Vue Weekly

Arts-Undercover-Apr12Citrus Photography

I got my first taste of “spontaneous theatre” this week when I reviewed Rebecca Northan’s Undercover at the Citadel Theatre for Vue Weekly.

While many improv shows rely on audience members for only a few moments to serve a gag, director and producer Rebecca Northan’s follow-up to her international hit Blind Date, takes a different approach. Undercover makes a single “rookie detective” the core component of the production’s 125-minute narrative conceit.

Police Sgt. Roberta Collins (Northan) hires the detective from the audience, quickly brings them up to speed on the job, and then sends them undercover to gather intel on a new criminal name in town at a private art auction on an acreage. Co-written by Northan and multidisciplinary artist Bruce Horak (who also plays Peter Vinen, the rookie’s inside contact) Undercover delivers an experience like no other. Read more

I plan to see the show at least one more time before it wraps in The Club theatre on Apr. 29, because it’s the kind of performance that will never be the same twice. I look forward to seeing what Northan thinks up next!

Kobo Town concert preview for Vue Weekly

Music-KoboTown-Mar22.jpg

Kobo Town is an incredible Canadian calypso band, and I got to preview its upcoming concert for Vue Weekly.

When Kobo Town comes to play, they deliver a high-energy show with calypso classics and reinterpretations of the genre.

After moving to Canada as a teenager, Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves named the band after the historic neighbourhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad: the birthplace of calypso.

Gonsalves grabbed inspiration from all around him for the band’s latest album Where the Galleon Sank—whether by listening to hits from Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, working with legendary performers like Calypso Rose, absorbing ideas from French culture, or spotting quirks in Kobo Town’s home-base Toronto. Read more

Where the Galleon Sank is nominated for world album of the year at The JUNOS awards this weekend. Whether Gonsalves and his band earn the top nod or not, their concert isn’t one to be missed if you can make it to The Arden Theatre on March 29.

‘Doob: No Bed of Roses’ Film Review for Vue Weekly

Film-Doob-Mar1-1140x599-1

I tackled a film review of Doob: No Bed of Roses for Vue Weekly this week. I thought it was a great, probing film

Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s latest lodges a chisel into a rock labelled “unfaithful love.” And during 85 minutes of film, he gently hews away until there’s nothing left.

No Bed of Roses (Doob) trains a plodding lens on infidelity—a subject that’s often only struck with comedic and glancing blows in western cinema—and places us within some of the most uncomfortable moments of a fracturing family in a present-day Bangladesh city. Muted greys and whites hang over each frame, draping an impossible-to-shake malaise over each character’s conversations during some of the lowest points in their lives. Read more

Serendipitously, Doob: No Bed of Roses hits on several things I’ve recently been thinking about and studying in fiction and reality (infidelity, global media systems, interpersonal pressures), so I was thrilled to tackle this review. The film runs at The Princess Theatre this Saturday and Sunday.

‘La Traviata’ Opera Preview for Vue Weekly

Arts-LaTraviata1-Mar1

I had a fun time previewing La Traviata in Vue Weekly this week. It’s described as the ‘pinnacle’ of opera, and this production is set in a cabaret club.

Mercury Opera’s slogan may be “Opera where you least expect it,” but for this week’s production of the iconic La Traviata, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue in Edmonton than the Chez Pierre Cabaret.

La Traviata tells a tragic tale of overlapping love triangles in 1920s Paris, with Violetta Valéry (an accomplished courtesan) and Alfredo Germont (the first man she feels has truly loved her) at the centre.

And within the intimate club setting of Chez Pierre, Mercury Opera artistic director Darcia Parada says an eight-piece orchestra will bring Giuseppe Verdi’s music to life while internationally acclaimed singers unleash their voices up close as if every audience member is a part of the characters’ party. Guests are even invited to attend in ‘20s attire to suit the occasion. Read more

I can’t wait to see what it feels like to be so close to the performers. I love the way Mercury Opera‘s tries to hook new audiences, and Chez Pierre couldn’t be a better choice to flaunt that approach. The show runs through Mar. 11.