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 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
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.
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.
Women The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is my new favourite musical (overtaking Chicago and Rent) and I reviewed it for Vue Weekly.
Plain Jane Theatre Company has always had a knack for reviving musicals that didn’t necessarily live up to their initial potential during Broadway runs, but Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is a standout.
A farcical tale of love, infidelity, and crime in ‘80s Madrid, Jeffery Lane’s screenplay (based on the 1988 film by Pedro Almodóvar) boasts an abundance of the embellishments that make a great romantic comedy work, while also presenting an endearing human narrative that’s brought to life with surprising continuity by Plain Janes’ cast and crew. Read more
Until now, I’ve never felt like I absolutely need to see a show twice during its run before, but this Plain Janes production absolutely warrants it. The show runs through Saturday at the Varscona Theatre, and you don’t want to miss it if you’re in Edmonton!
Macewan University’s The Scavenger magazine ran my feature profile of Edmonton’s 2016-17 Youth Poet Laureate today. Nasra Adem is an inspiring artist, and I’m so happy to share part of her story.
On this hot summer day, Nasra Adem gazes out at the 600 demonstrators packed against a precautionary police line at the steps of the Alberta Legislature, and puts her body where her poetry is. Wearing a traditional orange-and-green African dress that hangs past her ankles, and a matching headdress that temporarily tames the frizz of her thick black hair, she looks out from the podium into the faces of the crowd, and finds sympathetic eyes staring back.
This August rally has formed under an “End Racism in Canada” banner. It is, in part, a reaction to the alt-right extremists who had marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Va., two weeks before, and, in part, a denunciation of the myth that racism doesn’t exist in Edmonton. Adem leaped – as she often does – at the chance to present her work for an important cause. Not necessarily as 2017’s Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate, but as an affected voice trying to change the world for the better.
Some days, she changes the young, urging them to embrace love and question what they see. Some nights, she changes the old, chipping away at their hardened views from a place of vulnerability. And sometimes, she is blocked by a seething lie that has poked at the Canadian psyche as long as she can remember. Read more
I previewed Good Grieffor Vue Weekly today. It’s an exciting debut exhibition by Jay Procktor, an Edmonton photographer I respect immensely.
As a Grade 1 teacher, Jay Procktor sometimes clowns around with his students. But after years of work on the side as a photographer, the 43-year-old local is unveiling his first large gallery exhibition this week, filled with 16 images of clowns in both a literal and symbolic sense.
The Good Grief exhibit is inspired by personal loss Procktor has encountered, featuring 15 self-portraits and one photo of Procktor’s father.
In February 2012, Procktor’s best friend passed away and five months later his father also passed after a long battle with cancer. Read more
My interview with Procktor was one of my all-time favourites. The way he channeled loss into a community project culminating in fantastic art is incredible. I only wish I had more space to share his story.