Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ruby Slippers: Mexico City and The Russian Play

Last night I was invited to attend the Opening Night of two plays by Hannah Moscovitch, the 2009 Governor General nominated playwright for East of Berlin. I unfortunately didn’t get to see East of Berlin when it was here but I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews since. So I was looking forward to seeing this evening of one-acts very much and I was not disappointed. In this case, Moscovitch has penned two very witty yet poignant one-act plays, Mexico City and The Russian Play that not only break the fourth wall but shatter it to pieces.

In Mexico City the audience is greeted by a young couple on their nitty-gritty Mexican vacation. Not the package tour kind. No, they want to see “the real Mexico”. What makes this 25-minute gem so wonderful is that the actors speak mainly to the audience, in third person, except for at the very end. It is this disconnect that makes the whole husband-and-wife-bickering bit so great. They eat street food. They get lost. They end up caught in a rainstorm. They get annoyed with each other but in the end they kiss and makeup.

This same dry wit follows through into The Russian Play. Within the first few minutes the narrator and leading character, Sonya, immediately plays with the audiences pre-conceived ideas about Russian literature and the types of stories that we’ve come to expect from the likes of Chekov or Tolstoy. And, like Mexico City, Sonya speaks to the audience. Not only does she speak to the audience but she also refers to her story as a play. Definitely no fourth wall here. And, the way she tells her story is both hysterical and poignant. Colombe Demers who portrays Sonya is absolutely incredible as she flips back and forth between the narrator of her story and the voice of Sonya re-living the events of her life.

The stage was basically bare for both Mexico City and The Russian Play. Rather the mood and atmosphere were defined by lighting and sound. I especially enjoyed the Violinist (played by Tessa Cameron) in The Russian Play and how the music would heart-breakingly punctuate certain scenes. It goes to show you that good stories speak for themselves. The words created by the playwright allow us to imagine the setting and to me it was crystal clear.

Presented by Ruby Slippers and a production of 2b Theatre Company, Mexico City and The Russian Play are on stage together at Performance Works every night until this Sunday, March 28th with 2pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday. If you are interested in checking out one of Canada’s hot young writers (she’s only 30) you can get your tickets at VancouverTix.com.

(photo's courtesy of Ellie O'Day)

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

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