• Penny Warwick

Two Cents & Two Pence Review of 2019

2019 saw another exciting year of theatre in Vancouver with diverse companies both large and small bringing new work and exciting productions to the stage. Here are our top picks from the last year.

In alphabetical order:

ALICE IN GLITTERLAND This immersive show from Geekenders played the WISE Hall during the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. “A sensual feast of non-stop action, sexual magnetism, jealousy and redemption.” (Cynthia York)

CENTURIONS Centurions had a blink-and-you-missed-it run at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, but still deserves a mention. Sally Stubbs’ bold new play cleverly weaved technology, design and theatrical conventions to tell a dark story of intense teen friendships and unforgivable acts. Here’s hoping it gets another life further down the road. (Lillian Jasper) 

HOT BROWN HONEY Hot Brown Honey, courtesy of Australia’s Briefs Factory was back again this year and we loved it just as much. If you didn’t see it, you’d better hope it comes back a third time. (Max Timmins)

“More than a show, it is an embodiment of sexual liberation, a celebration of matriarchal ideas and a call to action for a better tomorrow through education and awareness of inherent societal privilege and racial divides.” (Penny Warwick)

“A showcase of incredible women with superb talents, ranging from singing and acrobatics to ass kicking and privilege smashing.” (Emma Rossland)

JERUSALEM  United Players’ Jerusalem was community theatre at its absolute best. The performances, set, direction and technical aspects were all better than most professional shows I saw in 2019. (Emma Rossland)

“An astonishingly brilliant production.” (Irving Bolton)

MATILDA The Arts Club knocked it out of the park with Roald Dahl’s empowering tale of a supernaturally talented little girl.

“Perfect family fare with just enough edge.” (Lillian Jasper)

“This hilarious and heart-warming romp entertained from start to finish.” (Liz Gloucester)

“A feel-good and magical musical.” (Ash Tisdale)

MRS. KRISHNAN’S PARTY Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, at The Cultch, was so much more than a theatrical experience. With audience participation, cultural lessons and the understated but wonderful performances by the actors, this show was a must-see. (Ash Tisdale)

NASSIM Especially pertinent with a potential conflict brewing between USA and Iran, The Cultch’s production of Nassim Soleimanpour's Nassim talks of community and understanding in the most charming ways. (Blake Hepburn)

REDPATCH Redpatch, from Hardline Productions and the Arts Club, tells a fairly simple story filled with rich, powerful doses of Indigenous identity, horrors of trench warfare, and community. Though a remount, it stood up yet again against the year’s best. (Kelly Moncton)

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE Bard On The Beach’s production of Shakespeare In Love was “an evening filled with great performances, spectacular visuals, and much entertainment.” (Emma Rossland)

“Lavish and romantic, featuring a faultless turn from Ghazal Azarbad as leading lady Viola.” (Lillian Jasper)

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW Bard On The Beach’s The Taming Of The Shrew was a unique Western take on the Shakespearean classic. Not the usual tale of the “shrew” learning obedience, this was one where Kate’s final speech empowered rather than demeaned women. (Ash Tisdale)

“A triumphant tale of love, cooperation and understanding being able to vanquish the regressive minds of the bullying masses.” (Irving Bolton)

WHERE THE QUIET QUEERS ARE There was nothing that moved us quite like Where The Quiet Queers Are, a production from Amplify Choral Theatre at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival.

“This show has so much to offer and delivers entirely in novelty, intimacy and skill.” (Cynthia York)

“Sublime, engaging and resonant in every possible way.” (Max Timmins) 

“Symphonic acapella immersion into the joys and pains of the human experience; an outstanding performance which shall always stay with me!” (Irving Bolton)