The main theatre season has once again drawn to a close and the city’s theatre companies both large and small can be proud of an amazing 2011/2012 season. While I mourn the loss of the theatrical hustle and bustle that reigns rampant from September to June, it does give me the opportunity to reflect on some of the year’s gems. In hopes that you may be inspired to catch future runs for works you might have missed, or to keep a closer eye on upcoming productions from great companies, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favourite plays from the past 10 months.
Drama: Pilot Episode
Alberta Theatre Projects
February 2012 as part of the Enbridge PlayRites Festival
Set in a city that in many ways parallels the attitudes and pitfalls of our own, playwright Karen Hines’ Drama: Pilot Episode was intriguing, intelligent, full of depth and, on top of it all, hilarious. Following forensic psychiatrist Penelope Douglas as she navigates a new life listening to the living, Hines’ script is full of wit and charm as it addresses everything from motherhood to the collapse of television. Visually, intellectually and spiritually captivating, I pray for a full-length run of Drama: Pilot Episode in Calgary.
Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth
March 2012 at the Studio at Vertigo Theatre
Tackling the complex issues associated with race and political correctness, Ground Zero’s production of David Mamet’s legal drama Race was, in a word, intense. Charles Strickland, accused rapist and wealthy white male, hires two lawyers, one black and one white, to defend him against allegations of rape by a young black woman. Beautifully acted and tense to the last second, Race examined the ethics of race in a frank and unadulterated way that left me questioning myself and the world around me for days.
Death of the Freak Show
January 2012 as part of High Performance Rodeo
It’s no secret that I am an avid fan of Swallow-a-Bicycle. Their consistently innovative, unusual and provocative work appeals to my sense of adventure on an unparalleled level. That said, Death of the Freak Show still managed to shock and awe me. Inspired by the classic “freak show,” characters included siamese twins and a four-legged girl. Alternating between comedic raunch and thought-provoking insight, I viewed the entire spectacle in a state of mild, overwhelmed hysteria — a good kind of discomfort, one that strives to challenge perceptions.
Honourable mentions also go out to Sage Theatre’s Fool for Love, Theatre Calgary’s Shirley Valentine and Ghost River Theatre’s Big Shot.
By Brianna TurnerAB, Alberta