Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: (Vancouver) Kid Gloves

(from the website)

Making History
by David C. Jones
A lot of the truly interesting things about our Canadian history are lost, either because at the time no one thought what was happening was note-worthy or, worse, they suppressed or deleted history in hopes of preventing a changing time.
Vancouver writer Sally Stubbs (Herr Beckman’s People, Wreckage) became intrigued by the first female police officers in Canada and discovered that Vancouver was the first city in Canada to have not one, but two officers in 1912. Not a lot is known about Lurancy Harris and Minnie Miller, it’s not conclusive where they came from or even how their names are correctly spelled.
So Kid Gloves, at Firehall, is the imagined story of what happened those first weeks on the job based on what was happening in Vancouver at the time and a few scraps of historical information.

The diverse cast was solid but the story slowly became less involving.

Director Donna Spencer could not ask for a better cast. The formidable Colleen Wheeler plays the hard-edged and determined Lurancy and winsome Dawn Petten plays the more genteel Minnie (stop or she will sing a song – woman constables were not issued a gun). 
Two actors are double cast – the remarkable Scott Bellis plays bar owner and rogue with a heart Connor O’Rouke and old dog police mouthpiece Constable Fields. Wildly fun Deborah Williams plays society lady Gertrude Crane and the brain-damaged Bella Boychuck.
Rounding out the cast are Marlene Ginader as plot catalyst Mai Ji, Patrick Keating as a politician-with-a-secret Daniel Crane. Playing a honky tonk piano is Jeff McMahan.
Off the top there are some moments of fun, ranging from situational comedy about home made dill pickles to a silent movie chase with long-skirted and fancy heeled women running on the spot while a projection showed the chase. The diverse cast was solid but the story slowly became less involving. Our heroines are up against political corruption and police obstruction and none of it felt original or intriguing. In fact it started to feel a little like standard old timey TV cop show fare, Cagney & Lacey or Police Woman.
It’s a handsome looking production - set and multi-media projections designed by Francesca Albertazzi, costumes by Barbara Clayden - but the musical numbers in the bawdy house (there are three) feel like filler and the ending is a frustrating surprise.
These are remarkable women who made history. I wish the story made that history more remarkable.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know what to expect when i sat down to watch the play. I loved the set design, I thought it was really well put together.

    It started off nicely, but never really got anywhere for me. It always felt like something was missing, it wasn't gripping for me. I enjoyed the fillers they had, but it would have been nice to incorporate those into the story more.