Monday, April 29, 2013

Openings We're Tracking This Week, April 29 - May 5

Highgate (photo via Facebook)

This is not the first production of RED in Canada in the last two years. Off the top of our heads, we think we've reviewed it in Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal. But as its director (and ATP artistic director) Vanessa Porteous has noted - it is the first in the light of some "new" information that one of the "characters" of the play - iconic, fairly eccentric and prickly artist Mark Rothko - was the subject of some funny business with the CIA. Apparently the organization promoted American Abstract Expressionist artists because they were symbolic of American freedom and therefore a perfect weapon against Soviet Union artistic dogma. (Another fine play - David Pownall's Master Class - looks at the other side and deals with Stalin v. Shostakovitch and Prokofiev.) All this to say that Rothko embodied - even for the spooks - newness and innovation. Moreover, the series of gigantic works he did for the Bronfman family - the genesis of which are portrayed in this play - are (as the play shows quite wonderfully) a testament to this odd man's soaring creative spirit. (Calgary)

If you have spent time in the cemeteries of London, England (there are actually tours where you can do that) you will immediately note how the Victorians elevated funerals into high art. Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg has taken her particular blend of theatre, dance, to deliver a production - Highgate - which examines those bizarre Victorians. However... our colleagues at the Georgia Straight called the result "insanely funny". Put that in your crematorium stack and smoke it! (Vancouver)

This week, in Quebec, the Segal Centre is ground zero of the best of alternative anglophone theatre. In one house they are presenting a new work from Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes by the recently-departed Greg Kramer. But as if company and author were not enough to sell the production, there is also a real star returning to the stage to portray the man with the pipe and hat: Jay Baruchel of he's Out of My League and Tropic Thunder Fame. Sidemart doesn't really need the star-power to create thrilling theatre, anymore than Scapegoat Carnivale does - and they (playing Segal's other house) are wrangling the two volumes of Goethe's Faust into one evening. Let's say it: the joint is  jumping. (Read also director Alison Darcy's first-person piece on preparation for Faust.) (Montreal)

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