Tag Archives: Whitehorse Theatre

Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy Of

Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy Of is many things. It is a stinging indictment towards police brutality, It is a deep look into race relations in modern day Canada, It a an ardent love letter towards rap and hip hop, it is an emotionally intense drama, But one thing that all of these parts build to is that it is one of the best shows of the year.

The play follows the rap group Sal Copone as they react to the death of there DJ in a brutal police shooting. The play is narrated by Shey Ney Ney a crossdressing prostitute. He discusses the central issues of the play in a way that is both profane and poetic. The lead character is Sal a young black man who leads the group. He is utterly shocked by what happens to Freddy, the groups DJ who was shot by the police and begins the play hiding away in his room writing. Jewel is a young woman who also raps in the group. She is aggressive angry, sarcastic and my favorite character. Chase handles the business end of the band and tries to remain in denial about the injustices that the police’s actions show. Freddy’s little sister Naimi is very young and a little naive. She worries about what her big brother is doing in the aftermath of his friend’s death.

The play deals with a lot of issues. Including: police brutality and how it intersects with racism, Canada’s reputation as an egalitarian paradise and the many ways it is unearned, sexism and homophobia. Despite covering all of this territory in a relatively short play the characters never feel like there preaching to the audience. It all sounds like what the characters would say in the situation their in.

 

Another refreshing thing about the play is that very few scenes are only dramatic or only funny. Even in scenes that are mostly fun and humorous have a tragic tinge to them and even sad scenes have a bit of humor. This is very true to life. Very often people find humor in even the most tragic of circumstances.

 

(This paragraph contains spoilers) One of the most interesting elements of the play is how it subverts the usual structure of a tragedy.  Traditionally tragedy is not really an unjust genre. The Traditional tragic Hero misbehaves because of a tragic flaw. At the end of the play because they could not overcome this flaw they are punished. In this play that is not the case. No one really has a specific tragic flaw, and in the end It is Sal, who arguably has the best balance between level headiness and justice who suffers the worst while Chase who arguably acts the worst out of all the characters and escalated the situation to this point is comparatively unscathed. There is a simple reason for this: Sal is black and Chase is white. A traditional tragedy leaves the audience feeling sad yes, but also very satisfied. This play leaves the audience angry at the status quo that allows such injustice and that is a very important feeling.

 

The acting is phenomenal. You feel like your there with the actors. Seth Whittaker is phenomenal as Sal. He perfectly captures all of the character’s emotions, his anger at his friend’s death, his guilt, his intelligence and artistic talent, and his protectiveness towards his little Sister. Leitia Brooks  is also great in the role of Sal’s little sister Naomi. She really captures both the character’s naiveté and her intelligence. The two actor’s chemistry is perfect as well. They both act like a real brother and sister. Kim Villagante is amazing in the Role of Jay. She captures the characters’ anger but also her general emotional openness and sadness at her friend’s death.Jordan Waunch  is great in the role of Chase. He brings a certain charm and wit to what is ultimately a very difficult character.  Finally, Troy Emery Twig is phenomenal in the role of Sheneyney. He captures the character’s camp mannerisms and snark but also the character’s fear about the way the authorities treat him and his kindness.

 

Overall this is a really powerful and important play and shows why we need diversity not only when it comes to the actors we cast but also the creators we promote.

Paradise

When a brilliant writer and a brilliant director work together the results can be nothing short of amazing. Patti Flather’s is the writer of the second play I ever watched, and still one of the best, The Soul Menders. Majdi Bou-Matar is the brilliant director of last year’s Body 13. The two have brought about one of the best plays of the year, and one that captures many issues that are important both in the world at large and Whitehorse in general Paradise.

The play is an ensemble piece that follows four characters. Rachel a young woman who after spending some time in Central America is brutally sexually assaulted. Upon coming home she finds that everything in her life is changing in all sorts of ways she did not expect and she begins taking drugs as an escape. Her father George is an eccentric doctor who is struggling with his upcoming divorce. His patient Wally is a former lumberjack who after an injury has become increasingly desperate to prove that he has a problem in his ear canal, and has been becoming increasingly unstable as time goes by. Khalil is a young man of Middle Eastern descent who is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Each of these characters seeks to find some kind of humanity in the worlds various systems and find themselves stifled by them.

All of the issues of the play are very important but that would mean very little if the play was not well written. Fortunately it is. Patti Flather has always had a very deft touch for character and this play is no exception. Each of the characters feels very real, and are very sympathetic. Despite the fact that many of characters fail to understand each other in various ways and find themselves at odds none of the characters feels at all unsympathetic. You understand why the characters act in the way they do and this makes there problems seem all the more tragic.

Another really interesting element of the writing is the way that the scenes are juxtaposed with each other. In some cases when characters are going through something similar the scenes of what are happening to them occur simultaneously. At others the scenes will shift very suddenly sometimes with one of the characters from the previous scenes quickly playing a different role in another scene. A common change is for different characters to play Wally’s dog. The way that this occurs creates a unique experience.

The direction is also very well done. Majdi Bou-Matar is a very unique director with a very recognizable style. This play actually differs from many of his others in that it has a script at all. The majority of his plays are done almost entirely by improv. The freedom he gives his actors has always worked very well. there is an inherent physicality to the way the characters move. It is physical poetry.

The set design done by David Skelton is very interesting. There are bars everywhere giving the set a very oppressive atmosphere. It relates directly to how Khalil is imprisoned, but also by how all of the other characters feel imprisoned.

The actors in this play are all amazingly talented people. Pam Patel shines in the role of Rachel. There is a very powerful energy to her performance, the character is very emotional and very emotionally expressive and she does a great job at capturing that. When her character is truly happy it is impossible not to feel that happiness, by the same token it is impossible not to feel her pain at what happened to her or to feel the desperation she feels later in the play. Michael Peng does a great job as George. He really captures the characters eccentricity and hidden issues. His performance is on one hand very funny, but at the same time there is a tragedy to his character which Peng captures perfectly. Patel and Peng also have very good chemistry. The two of them feel like a real father and daughter. This can especially be seen in a scene were the two of them are looking at a bird that has flown into the birdhouse. Nicholas Cumming Is great in the role of Wally. We see his softer side in his interactions with his dog. He does a great job showing his characters frustration with the way he is treated while at the same time being very intimidating in his growing anger. Aldrin Bundoc is great in the role of Khalil he is especially impressive since his storyline is the most separated from the other characters. He has to not only show his own character arc, but also create this arc on his own through both the letters he narrates and his interactions with the guards who are not actually on stage. His performance on its own is just as impressive as the other actors. He does a superb job of capturing his characters enthusiasm and youth while also capturing the characters decent into fear anger and hopelessness.

Paradise is a powerful play that talks about some important issues while giving no easy answers. It is also a very effective and powerful character study. It deals with the issues involved in a way that pulls no punches so if you are sensitive to any of the issues you may want to give the play a pass. Otherwise this could very well be the best play of the year. It will be playing one more time tomorrow at the Yukon Arts Centre, at 8PM and then one more time at the ST. Elias Convention Centre at 7PM in Haines Junction. If you only see one play this year let it be this one.

Ralph + Lina

ralph-reviewXXrv1.JPG (620×349)

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.