Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Plays the Thing...

I love live theatre, but will fully admit to being a full blown theatre snob.  I like my theatre challenging, intelligent, evocative and provocative, and have a great distaste for what I call 'theatre for couch tours/tourists'; I walked out of 'Cats', and have never seen 'Les Miserables' on principle (although I do hear the latter is actually quite good). For better or worse, that's just me.

So when visiting New York, one of my very favourite things to do is hit the Times Square 'TKTS' booth and get great cut price tickets to the best Broadway has to offer.  The last time, the highlight of my cultural frenzy was seeing 'Venus in Fur' at the Lyceum Theatre.  It was my 'wild card' choice of the trip; I didn't know that much about the production (apart from, of couse, having read the original Leopold von Sacher-Masoch book years ago) but... 1. It was pouring rain; 2. I desparately wanted to escape the inclement elements with an afternoon matinee; and 3. this was one of the few plays left on offer whose time frames fit my schedule.

It is so great when things work out.

The play itself was amazing... everything I look for in a theatrical experience, and the cast was also brilliant.  As a matter of fact, the two actors went on to win accolades for their performances: Nina Arianda won the 2012 Tony for Leading Actress for her electric performance as Vanda, and Hugh Dancy (he of 'Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene'  and 'Hysteria') received a Drama Desk 'Best Actor' award nomination for his role as Thomas.

So... when I saw posters advertising the play at the Creekside Theatre in Lake Country, I was intrigued.  I really wanted to see what the Fred Skelton Theatre Company would make of this challenging, and rather edgy play, and how this local production would stack up to the one I saw on Broadway - no pressure there. The answer is... pretty darn good.  Dorothy Dalbi was really quite fabulous as Vanda, the mysterious/ditzy/and possibly menacing auditioning actress to Neville Bowman's most competent Thomas, the 'play within a play's' adaptor/director.  And, again, the play - in and of itself - is quite simply... wonderful.

I also couldn't help but think what a brave choice it was for director Shannon Moore. The play's content is challenging and sexually charged, and the vocabulary - at times - the other side of blue.  To see it performed in a smaller metropolitan centre like Kelowna (the theatre was full, and the audience very appreciative - the performance I attended garnered a standing ovation) bodes well for the intelligence of theatre buffs in the area.  Hurrah.

Final words... if this is theatre in Kelowna, I'm going to be one happy bunny.  More please.

'When a young actress shows up hours late for her appointment, she knows she may have blown her chances at the role. But when her emotionally charged audition for the demanding playwright/director becomes an electrifying game of cat and mouse that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, love and sex—well, the rules may have all just changed.'

Pictures sourced from Fred Skelton Theatre Company, Kelowna