Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) The Theory of Everything

Representing the Reality
by David C. Jones
Diversity in the performing arts is vital to keep Canada’s cultural body alive. As our visible minority population is already a majority in many urban areas we need to be presenting works that reflect the reality we live in.
The Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre has been creating works that help foster and grow Asian and South Asian artists producing such plays as Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple as well as several sketch comedy contests.
The show is staged in the round (or rather in the square) and actors give warm and earnest performances.

They offer classes and workshops and their current production features the Master Class taught by Rick Tae in The Theory of Everything by Prince Gomolvilas.
Patty and her husband Hiro run a drive up wedding chapel in Nevada. Patty spends a lot of time on the roof because she is obsessed with UFO’s. Her mother May likes to nap up there and every now and then sweeps to make herself look useful. Shimmy is a single Filipino Mom with a restless teenage son named Gilbert who hangs out with brother and sister Nef and Lana.

When May says she was almost abducted by an alien the friends set up a weekend vigil in hopes they return. Patty welcomes the opportunity because it is also her birthday. They take shifts and as they hang out on the roof secrets and dreams get revealed and by the end of the weekend many lives will be changed.
Mr. Gomolvila's script is a little overly quirky at times – Gilbert renames himself Ibuprofen for instance and the premise for them to hang out is strained but he writes some lovely monologues for each of the characters to deliver at regular intervals through the two acts.

The show is staged in the round (or rather in the square) and actors give warm and earnest performances. One does wonder why there are no paperweights on all of Patty’s files and papers on the tables on roof, sure it’s hot in Nevada but it is not windless, but we are here for the acting.
The actors all have different experience levels and training. Isaac Kwok as Nef inhabits his confused older brother role finding internal rhythms and impulses. Yvette Lu as the weary and lonely mother brings quirk and winsomeness to Shimmy. The younger Quynh Mi and Alvin Tran can afford to go deeper but both have some brave moments of truth. BC Lee and Aurora Chan as the couple have the casualness of a long married and yearning pair.

The standout, and in the showiest part, was Linda Leong Sum as the 65 year old May. She makes clean and simple choices and attacks her monologue with verve and curiosity to drive it along.

The whole show could have had a lighter, wilder feel as the script seems to want but as a student showcase it was a good opportunity for the actors and leaves one looking forward to the next VACT show. 

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