Ralph + Lina

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Ralph and Lina is a fantastic play that is filled with joy and energy it celebrates, love, perseverance and Canada’s multiculturalism.

The play focuses on the trials and tribulations of Ralph and Lina a couple in Italy who meet when Lina starts working for Ralph’s mother. The two are immediately attracted to each other but as the war starts the two of them are forced into several chaotic situations that challenge their relationship.

The stage is very minimalistic but also very effective. One of the best decision on my opinion was to use relatively few props instead having the two actors mime the use of the items. For example there is a sewing machine that is used to great effect in a very early scene that is actually just Christina Serra making sewing noises while pretending to sew some cloths. It only adds to the plays charm.

The play only has two actors in it but that is all it needs. Dan Watson and Christina Serra are both amazing in their roles. Watson does a great job of portraying his characters eager and enthusiastic at times slightly childish character while also showing his more serious traits such as His deep abiding love for Lina, His determination to see his family and the genuine trauma he goes through in the war. Serra does an absolutely amazing job portraying both her characters very energetic and romantic personality but also the more fiery and determined side to her character. She also does a great job portraying her characters genuine grief in some of the more tragic scenes. The two actors are actually a married couple in real life which shows because the two have amazing chemistry. The two of them complement each other perfectly with very energetic performances. The acting often incorporates dance and is very physical. The two main characters are both very emotional people and the strength of the performers is how powerfully they convey these emotions. When they are happy the audience is overjoyed and when they are sad the audience is miserable.

The overall play is very funny, and filled with joy. The play deals with some very serious issues such as war, disease and the troubles of immigrants and these are given the proper amount of weight and drama. However the overall play is very joyful. The characters face major challenges, but they both prove themselves more than capable of overcoming them. The joy is in fact the plays greatest strength. It has been at least a year since a single play has brought me this much joy and months since any piece of art in general has done so. Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Center for Thursday and Friday.

White Ribbon: Masculinty in the Media

Today marks the first day of the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women. In the campaign men from now until the sixth of December wear a white ribbon to symbolize their pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. It is a positive campaign to change masculinity into something more positive. This is a really great campaign that has the potential to do a lot of good for society. To celebrate this event I will be looking as I always do at the media. Most portrayals of men in the media reinforce dominant negative gender roles. We will be looking at either more positive male characters or ones where the negative roles the characters fall into are deliberate.

The Shape of Things

The Shape of things is a beautiful play that explores the relationship between art, Romance, and (on a much more subtle level) gender roles. It combines humour, drama, and intimacy to create a truly great production.

The play follows a somewhat nerdy and shy but sweet young college student named Adam who, after a chance encounter, begins a relationship with a flamboyant art student named Evelyn who begins to help him make some major changes in his life. His friends Jenny and Phillip react positively and negatively respectfully to these changes.

One very strong element of the piece is Rosie Stuckless’s costume designs. The costumes tell a lot about the characters; for example, I actually have known women similar (though not as extreme) to Evelyn and they dress almost identically to her. The same can be said for the costuming of Phillip and Jenny, but the character who the costuming really stands out for is Adam. As he changes throughout the play his clothes change to reflect his new personality.

One of the only problems I have is the intermission. The play works best when the audience experiences the play very viscerally and on a very emotional level, only processing it afterwards. The intermission allows the audience to process what they’ve seen on an intellectual level. Still it’s a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise nearly perfect production.

The set designed by Donald C Watt is wonderful. It is made up of plinths which are then put together in order to make various objects on the stage. It looks very artistic in the way it is built which helps illustrate the plays questions about art.

The actors are all amazing. The cast is much younger than what has been common in the previous guild years. The guilds Artistic Director Anthony Trombetta should be congratulated for finally bringing a play to Whitehorse that taps the young talent that has been here for a very long time but never really taken advantage of in previous seasons. Jeff Charles does a great job portraying Adams awkwardness, as well as his surprising wit. As the play continues he does a great job portraying the changes in his character while still being recognizable.Santana Berryman is mesmerizing in the role of Evelyn she is very charming and charismatic but the character also has a rather manipulative and vindictive side that she portrays extremely well. The chemistry between the two actors is also very good. Rowan Dunne is great as Adams former roommate and friend Phillip. He portrays the characters blunt and occasionally very unpleasant demeanor very well but, also shows the genuine insight the character sometimes finds.
Finally Andrea Bols gives a fantastic performance as Adams other friend Jenny, giving a performance that nails the characters cheerful and friendly demeanor. The play works so well because each of the characters is real, if you have gone to a college there is a high chance that you have met someone like each of these characters at least once.

The play is very interesting look into art and relationships, it works as well as it does because of how real it feels the shape of things is a very powerful play that may have an effect on those who watch it for a very long time.

The Damage Is Done

The Damage is Done is a intelligent examination of family hidden sadness and how our past can shape us while also being very funny and hopeful for the future. The play is a two person performance staring Rita Bozi who also co-wrote the play and Gabor Mate. The play is very meta in the way it unfolds. both characters are completely aware that they are in a play and addressing the audience. but as the story continues the play evolves as the two characters decide to take it in a different direction. it goes from being an attempt to deliver an essay to something more akin to a therapy. Rita begins talking more about how the history of her country formed who she is but as time goes on it begins to talk about how her relationship with her family has made her who she is. Since this is not a fictional story but, her actual family history it is very personal and the audience can’t help but be drawn in themselves. on the night I went to the show the audience was asked how they responded to the play and almost all of the audience members who talked spoke of how the play reminded them of their own experiences.

Rita Bozi is the stand out performer in this play. She plays herself and her performance is very energetic expressing the emotion she feels perfectly throughout the play, for both humorous and tragic effect. however even more impressive is how she takes on the roles of the important people in her life some of whom were men. Gabor Mate who serves as foil to all of her performances by remaining very stoic but also very empathetic.

One of the key themes of the play is that although our past does have a great effect on who we are it doesn’t mean that our lives are hopeless. The Damage is Done reflects on some very important issues in a very emotionally powerful way. Its run at the Yukon Arts Centre ends tonight but if you have any chance to catch it at any other point during its tour I highly recommend it.

Terminus

Terminus is utterly unlike any play I have seen before. It tells an amazing story of spirits, treachery, guilt and murder. The story is told by three alternating narrators, none of whom have names. They are listed in the programme as “A” “B” and “C.” Each of them performs monologues that make up an interconnected story. They tell their stories in a really fantastic way. Each of them narrates there monologue in a lyrical way reminiscent of slam poetry. The most impressive element to this is that in narrating these stories, they also have to inhabit other characters than the narrator, and are not only able to do this, but are able to keep the one character who speaks in two different characters’ stories totally consistent in their voice and mannerisms.

The set design is very simple but also very impressive. There is a web of material surrounding a small raised platform which the narrator speaks from. In a different play, this might end up being constraining. However, in this play the characters utterly dominate the small space they’re given, their words reaching out and grabbing the audience.

The acting is absolutely amazing. “A” is played by Sarah Dodd. “A” is a guilt-ridden mother and teacher who, upon hearing that one of her former students is pregnant and in a lot of trouble, rushes to help her. Dodd really captures the characters sadness at how events in her past have turned out, while also doing a great job at showing the characters’ anger and consternation at some of the events that are unfolding. Although the characters’ sadness is more apparent in some scenes, there are a lot of scenes where her grief is still present but is more subtle and buried. She is also a great physical actress. This can be seen in the parts of the play where she is attacked by the other characters, and her mimed reactions to the physical attack are extremely realistic, despite the fact that she is alone onstage.

Nicola Elbro plays “B”, a lonely young woman who, after going to an ill-fated party, befriends a demon. Elbro gives an energetic performance as the events surrounding her become more and more fantastical. She really captures the bitterness that her character feels at the beginning of the story and the newfound joy she finds as it goes on, as well as her fear as events that are out of her control take place. She also performs a secondary character, the demonic soul searching for its treacherous body. The voice that she uses for the character, as well the fantastic dialogue, make the soul a very memorable character.

This paragraph contains a minor spoiler if you have read the advertising for the play, you will already know about this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Adam Lazarus plays “D”, a frustrated loner who has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a beautiful singing voice but has found that he is still too shy to use it. Now being filled with frustration and bitterness, he has become a traveling serial killer who chiefly murders women. His performance is especially compelling because when the character first appears he seems timid, even sweet. When he reveals his true self to the audience, it is truly terrifying. His mixture of psychotic glee and the occasional, almost childlike petulance, makes him both entertaining and terrifying. What makes the character especially interesting is that despite his insane nature, he has moments of clarity about how the world around him that make him doubly fascinating.

Terminus is a high-quality, lyrical urban fantasy with a beautiful script and wonderful acting. It will play for two more days. You should buy a ticket at the earliest opportunity.

The Book of Esther

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Before I begin this review, I should note that I am an incredibly biased source of information, because the lead actor is my little sister. Nevertheless, I am not someone who is driven to tears over fiction easily. This is something that has changed over time; when I was younger I used to cry over fiction all the time. However, as time has gone on, it has become less and less common. I still cry from time to time, but usually it’s about something happening in my actual life. Why bring up these personal details? Because The Book of Esther by Leanna Brodie and directed by Clinton Walker made me cry. It is the first play to ever do this to me, including Little One and the Cripple of Inishmaan. This one not only brought tears to my eyes, but did it three times.

The play follows the story of Esther, a Christian farm girl who runs away from home, and finds shelter with a flamboyantly gay man named Todd and a young rebel named A.D. She soon finds that there is a connection between her parents and Todd.

The writing in the play is absolutely fantastic. The dialogue can be hilarious one moment, shocking the next, heartbreaking after that, and then all three at the same time. Another thing that makes the play brilliant is how it discusses a number of issues regarding religion and sexuality and yet manages to do this without dehumanizing any particular side of the issues. It is clear that Brodie agrees with some characters and not others, but no character is a straw man and no one is wholly negative. It would have been very easy to make Esther’s heavily religious mother Anthea into an outright villain, but the play is far too intelligently-written to go down this easy road and gives each character sympathy and good arguments. Despite her open homophobia and her rather fanatical view of Christianity, Anthea is a very welcoming hostess and clearly loves her family.
The acting in this play is uniformly excellent. Santana Berryman’s performance as Esther is particularly impressive. She does a great job of playing a farm girl unused to the big city life. One of the most impressive elements to her performance is how expressive her face is. Her character is in a time in her life were her emotions run especially high and her face perfectly frames each emotion drawing the audience in. The character of Esther is very interesting in general. She is one of the only characters who really finds a balance between the two ways of life around her. She likes things about both the country and the city, although she likes the city more. The way the character slowly changes and becomes more open is wonderful to behold and Berryman does a great job of portraying this arc. Stephen Dunbar-Edge does a fantastic job playing Todd. The character of Todd is very comical in many ways but also very important to the story. He plays the role of a mentor and father figure to Esther. Dunbar-Edge does a great job of both showing the very entertaining nature of the character, in his deadpan moments and his over-the-top moments, but also manages to convey the fatherly and protective nature of the character. Colin Milne does a great job portraying the energetic and scrappy nature of his character. He has boundless energy in this role and does a great job of portraying how the character, despite being very wild, always has his heart in the right place. Dave Paquet does a fantastic job portraying Seth, Esther’s father. His character is clearly not necessarily the most intelligent person around and is very quiet, but Paquet does a wonderful job of portraying the characters’ love for his family and his desperation as he feels his world crumble around him. Despite the fact that his character isn’t intelligent, there’s a certain wisdom to him and Paquet does a great job of conveying this. Finally, Rosie Stuckless gives an absolutely phenomenal performance as Esther’s mother Anthea. It would have been easy to have an over-the-top performance that would make the character ridiculous. However, instead Stuckless gives a beautifully subtle performance with elements of tragedy. Anthea truly loves her daughter but she is terrible at expressing this.

The book of Esther is a beautiful, well-acted and directed play that is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. Go see it!

Body 13

Body thirteen is a beautiful picture of the cultural mosaic that makes up Canada. it really captures the spirit of Canada like very few other plays I’ve seen at the arts center with the possible exception of Justice. It follows the story of a number of characters of different races, countries of origin, and sexual orientations. It deals with issues surrounding sex, race, self acceptance and prejudice. Despite dealing with these very heavy themes and giving them the gravity they deserve the play is also utterly hilarious.

there is no real main character in this play it is a true ensemble piece. every character gets there chance to shine. Normally I would say that the play is wonderfully written and beautifully choreographed, but something I learned directly after watching it was that everything was improvised, with only the themes of the play predetermined. this is incredible. the first thing that you have to remember is that there are a couple of very dramatic and indeed heartrending scenes. Now I’ve never done much improv myself but according to my sister doing improvised drama is nearly imposable. Furthermore there were scenes such as the various characters dancelike portrayal of homophobia, or the haunting final scene. All of these scenes are apparently improvised, something i have nothing but admiration for.

The cast of characters and the actors who play them are amazing.
Pan Patal plays a grieving daughter who continually tries to spread her father’s ashes but finds herself feeling numb. She is also feels a attraction to Trevor Copp’s character, despite his less than admirable personality while at the same time recreating her relationship with her father with Badih Abouchaka’s character. Her performance captures the sadness and loss that her character feels while also capturing her feelings of rebellion and the almost explosive sexual tension with Copp’s character.

Badih Abouchaka plays a ex-military officer who feels estranged from the world around him and wanders around hoping to find himself. Despite being married he has realized he feels nothing for his wife and furthermore has begun to suspect that is gay. He finds a certain dark humor in the hopelessness of his situation and finds himself recreating his relationship with his daughter with Patel’s character. Abouchaka does a great job capturing both the tragic and the humorous elements of his character. His laughter at the painfulness of his situation is truly brilliant.

Jesslyn Broadfoot Plays a immigration officer who meets with one of her clients who is hoping to enter Canada. She finds herself falling for this client. Broadfoot does an excellent job of portraying both the cheery friendly nature of the character along with the sexual tension between her and Humsi’s character.

Nada Humi plays a recent immigrant to Canada. She hopes to stay both because of her love of the country and because if she goes home she will be killed. Nada does a great job showing the maniac energy of the character in a performance that is imposable not to enjoy.

Tawiah Ben M’carthy plays an African tribesman who frequently gives the other characters advise but finds himself afraid of the spirits from his tribe punishing him for his homosexuality. He does a great job of portraying both the characters wisdom and his fear.
Brad Cook plays a very nervous and twitchy man who finds himself attracted to M’carthy’s character’s natural conference. He does a great job portraying his characters nervous awkwardness.

Trevor Copp Plays a rather slimy and nasty character who is the best man at his friend’s wedding. He is afraid of growing old and spends much of his time attempting to seduce the attractive female characters. He is sexist, homophobic, and rather smug. Unlike the other characters in the play despite the various things that happen to him he doesn’t really change. This is not a play that really has traditional heroes or villain’s but this character fulfills a sort of De-facto villainous role representing people who cannot move towards the future. Trevor Copp does a fantastic job of portraying this character both making somewhat sympathetic through his insecurities and very funny.

Body thirteen is a beautiful touching play that will be available one more time tonight at the arts centre. If you want a play that perfectly sums up Canada then look no further than Body 13.