TOO MUCH THE­ATRE; NOT ENOUGH TIME

Calgary Herald - - YOU - LOUIS B. HOB­SON

Like The Bea­tles, there are times I wish there were eight days in a week.

Oc­to­ber was a prime ex­am­ple. There were so many plays open­ing at the same time that it was sim­ply im­pos­si­ble to get to all open­ing nights, which meant when I fi­nally saw the shows, it was too late to let read­ers know what they were miss­ing.

Sage The­atre’s pro­duc­tion of Half the Bat­tle, which opened on Hal­loween, has a longer run than most in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­tions. I man­aged to catch it on its sec­ond week, so there is time to spread the word.

It’s a triple-R re­mark­able per­for­mance, achieve­ment and show­case for Owen Bishop, who wrote and per­forms this solo show about a pair of Cana­dian fly­ers in the Sec­ond World War.

Adams, a brash pi­lot from New­found­land, and his milder co-pi­lot Davis from the Prairies have been shot down and are in a state of limbo, lit­er­ally joined to­gether. The bearded Adams in­hab­its the left side of Owen while the clean-shaven Davis holds court from his right. It doesn’t take long to make the metaphor clear that th­ese are two halves of Canada.

Owen gets some great laughs from this sur­real predica­ment as when Adams asks his com­plain­ing coun­ter­part if Davis would like to get some­thing off his side of their chest or when Adams drinks some moon­shine from a flask and Davis com­plains about how much it burns. At one point, they have a fist fight and find them­selves or, more ac­cu­rately them­self, rolling on the floor.

Owen in­serts this lev­ity be­tween the se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions Adams and Davis have about what they’ve seen in bat­tles, what brought them to en­list and what they’ve left be­hind.

Half the Bat­tle is an ideal Re­mem­brance Day show and one that should even­tu­ally play in the Mar­itimes as well as the Prairies.

It is to Owen’s credit that he is able to al­ter­nate so ef­fort­lessly be­tween the ab­surd and the poignant and that he re­veals some lit­tle-known facts as to how close the Sec­ond World War ac­tu­ally came to Canada.

Half the Bat­tle, which is a co­pro­duc­tion be­tween Sage’s newly ini­ti­ated Step­ping Stone Project and DIY The­atre, is di­rected with the­atri­cal flair by DIY’s Shelby Reinitz. It runs in the Arts Com­mons’ Mo­tel The­atre at 7:30 p.m. un­til Nov. 10 with au­di­ence talk­backs sched­uled af­ter most of the re­main­ing per­for­mances.

Seat­ing is very lim­ited so check out diythe­atre.org/ half-the-bat­tle to re­serve seats. This is one show you don’t want to miss.

ALIENS AND A FEW GOOD MEN AT THE PUMP­HOUSE

From my most re­cent I-wish-Ihad-seen-them-sooner file are The­atre BSMT’s Bright Lights and Strictly The­atre’s A Few Good Men.

The­atre BSMT’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Ryan Reese sched­uled a four­day, six-per­for­mance run of Kat San­dler’s comic thriller Bright Lights to co­in­cide with Hal­loween. Word of mouth saw the com­pany turn­ing peo­ple away from the fi­nal four per­for­mances.

Reese and his tech crew trans­formed the Pump­house’s Joyce Doolit­tle The­atre into a church base­ment shared by a day­care and an alien ab­duc­tion sup­port group.

De­fy­ing the ab­sur­dity of the play’s premise and char­ac­ters, di­rec­tor Con­rad Be­lau strove for a sense of nat­u­ral­ism. As the au­di­ence was still be­ing seated, a very preg­nant-look­ing Si­enna Holden put all of the day­care toys and tiny chairs away so she could set up the sup­port group’s ta­ble, all the while mak­ing cof­fee for her fel­low ab­ductees.

The sur­vival­ist of the group, played by John McIver, ar­rived clutch­ing a duf­fel bag full of weapons while Con­nor Christ­mas’s re­cov­er­ing ad­dict ea­gerly re­lated his lat­est con­spir­acy the­o­ries. The trio even­tu­ally is joined by its leader, played by a rather smug Bryson Wiese. What should have been a mun­dane meet­ing turned chaotic with the ar­rival of a new­comer played by Made­line Tay­lor- Gregg, who ac­cuses Wiese of be­ing an alien.

The­atre BSMT’s Bright Lights de­served a much longer run and its ar­rival at the Joyce Doolit­tle bumped Strictly The­atre’s im­pres­sive pro­duc­tion of Aaron Sorkin’s mil­i­tary thriller A Few Good Men which was also turn­ing peo­ple away from each per­for­mance.

Where the cast of Bright Lights was com­posed of emerg­ing artists, A Few Good Men fea­tured a full com­mu­nity the­atre cast lead by Greg Spiel­man, Bryan Smith and Gil­lian Klassen, re­mind­ing us once again in Cal­gary there is of­ten a fine line be­tween pro­fes­sional and com­mu­nity the­atre.

There are plans to re­vive A Few Good Men for an­other lim­ited run in June.

Dancer Den­nis Ala­manos per­forms in Chotto Desh, a mul­ti­me­dia story cre­ated by renowned chore­og­ra­pher Abram Khan.

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