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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January had a lot of theatre in it... At least the last two weeks...

I saw 9 shows in January... I was supposed to see 10 but when winter hit on the 26th I couldn't face driving and missed one (😞)... But 7 of those shows were in the last two weeks! I'd say it's a real challenge to produce theatre in the second half of January in Edmonton - so much competition!

Anyhow, I saw some good stuff, some silly stuff, some ok things... A lot of hard-working thoughtful artists.

I started the month with the Mayfield's Back to the 80's. We had really enjoyed the first 80's show they did a few years ago and while the music in this one was still very well done (and my favourite era) I didn't think this show had as strong a script. An enjoyable evening, but not much more than that.

However, I followed that up with The Humans at the Citadel. I was able to see it twice and was glad I could because it was so layered. I loved the naturalistic acting, the excellent writing, the connections between the actors, and the beautiful choreography of action in the multiple locations. I think it was probably some of the finest acting and direction I've seen so far this season. It's hard to not want to play up the moments and keep them oh-so-real, but that's where the power of this play is - it has to stay human.

Then onto some Shakespeare with Malachite Theatre's Twelfth Night. Shakespeare is always a bit of challenge for me because I am very familiar with most of the plays and this one more so because I have actually played Olivia before (It's funny, because even though that was 25+ years ago, I still remember the feeling of saying those words). I really liked how they created the world on the play inside the church - it felt very homey with the trees amidst the pews. My favourite scenes were with the Duke (Byron Trevor Martin) and Viola (Merran Carr-Wiggin) and the hockey stick duel between Viola and Andrew Aguecheek (Perry Gratton). I did want the show to move along a bit faster, and with a familiar piece like this, I am always in favour of a little judicious trimming of the script... I know, I know... not everyone agrees.

Then the marathon began:
- Onegin at Catalyst Theatre - a joyous musical feast which made the tragic Pushkin story celebratory and which invited the audience to really share in the experience! Definitely a highlight of this year's theatre season!
- Kill Your Television's Shakespeare's R & J at Theatre Network - Four incredibly gifted young actors told the story of Romeo and Juliet. There are only four of them (and a beautiful red curtain) and they're all men. This was excellently and creatively done. I did wonder if it said more in 1996 than it does today... but maybe that's a good thing because it says something about where we are now?
- Shadow Theatre's Slumberland Motel - My husband said, "I wanted to see more of Julian Arnold onstage, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind." Not a criticism of the acting, but more a comment on Julian Arnold's lack of clothes for much of the show. A tale of two vacuum salesman and a mysterious woman in a crummy motel room. A but funny and a bit sad. I did think that the play didn't really start until the last 10 minutes of Act One, but once it got going it was charming.
- Cardiac Theatre's Listening Room - A post-apocalyptic world full of young people trying to figure out their purpose and challenge the rules of their world. I had serious flashes of The Maze Runner and Divergent and all those good dystopian young adult fiction works after seeing this and lots of questions about "what happened to the world?"
- Send in the Girls' Soiled Doves: A Burlesque with Boots On - Burlesque combined with stories of women from the old west. Favourite moments included a real stolen horse round-up and the ever-so-sassy Morgan Yamada pretty much anytime she was on-stage. It's always interesting to see how this group merges theatre and burlesque.

And then tonight I saw Love & Information - review here.

Next: the very busy February! 

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