Sunday, December 17, 2006

Good show, Okay show

Saturday afternoon I went with my mom and dad to see A Christmas Carol at the Vancouver Playhouse. It was breathtaking. It was a musical, but not the holly jolly type. More like a kind of semi-macabre light opera with a huge focus on death and ample black comedy but also several definite crying places. The set was minimalist - a bare stage with what looked like a huge paper scroll coming down from the back wall and rolled out across the floor. The lighting changed to convey various settings and moods in an abstract surreal way. Musicians played and sound effects were made on stage, as the actors used their bodies for set pieces and mimed all of the props. (If you saw No Great Mischief a couple of years ago, it was the same sort of approach to set and props). People were beds, chairs, carriages and doors when they weren't being people, and everyone except the actor who played Scrooge played more than one character, including a boy Scrooge and a young man Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas past was hijacked from a Leaky Heaven Circus Show. Christmas Present came from a beer commercial. Christmas Future was downright ghoulish. Aside from the ghosts, the characters dressed in Dickens-period mourning costumes, but they spoke modern vernacular, with a few key phrases from the story woven in to their dialogue and the songs. I won't say any more but that you must go if you have the chance. Oooo oooo oooo - much better than I expected.

Saturday evening I went with Andy and Alex to see The Pursuit of Happyness. I'm not a Will Smith movie fan, preferring small stories with big heart to special effects battles and chase scenes. This movie promised to be something else, a serious, dramatic break from the typical Will Smith. It was pretty good, but basically exhausting. Will Smith literally runs through this whole movie, which chronicles six months in the (true) life of a failed small businessman who gets an internship at a big financial company. He has to be the best of 20 interns and take care of his young son single-handedly and he has the worst luck. So we see him running for coffee for his boss, running for the bus, running to the daycare, running to get a place to live... you get the idea. In one scene he is hit by a car but he doesn't have time to be injured. He just gets up and goes back to work, minus the shoe that was knocked off his foot in the collision. The storyline was relentless. Even the tender moments with his son were fraught with anxiety about what had just happened and what might happen next. It was just too much like some of my bad dreams to be entertaining. I needed a shift in pace or focus. Instead I felt like I'd just run a marathon right beside Will. Maybe just a different kind of chase scene without special effects?

So I can't recommend it, unless you are searching for something to raise your stress level vicariously for a couple of hours. Maybe you'll like it better than I did. I just don't like running movies. I didn't like Back to the Future either for the same reason - fever pitch panic from start to finish. Ugg.

That's all for now. The kids took over decorating the tree this year and they want me to come in and see their work.

question: Have you seen any good plays or movies lately?

mompoet - two shows in one day - pretty darn lucky!

No comments: