Saturday, May 05, 2007

Monkeys and Fairytales....

Yes, review time again. Saw a couple of very different things this weekend - Arctic Monkeys at the Commodore (not where this picture was taken - but same tour so close enough...) and Robert Lepage's The Andersen Project at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Friday with the Monkeys: Arrived outside the show and waited for a friend to show up so we could go in and claim our table together. Quickly realized that tickets for the sold-out show were being scalped for $150/piece - considerably higher than the $30 or so they were bought for. Tempted, but only briefly. Knew it was going to be popular, didn't realize it was going to be that crazy. Went in and claimed our 'old people' spot - a pre-booked table on the balcony that allows a good view without the crush of the crowd, and also avoids the annoying "view blocked by gigantic pillar" issue found with the tables downstairs. The club holds about 950, and it was packed. Crowd was a slightly different demographic than expected - skewed slightly older than I would have thought (ok ok, our table did help skew that, but we weren't the only over 35s there). Opening act Be Your Own Pet was a bundle of slightly self-conscious and mannered garagey-punky averageness - you get the feeling they think they are doing something new, but really, they're not. Or maybe I'm just old enough to remember that stuff the first time around. The most entertaining thing was their road tech - a giant of a man looking strikingly like Richard Moll
who wandered on and off the stage fixing a whole slew of technical issues. Anyway, enough about BYOP. Arctic Monkeys came on at about 11, and they really couldn't have done any better. The sound was great - not incredibly loud (which I had expected), and the vocals were sitting nicely in the mix and were really clear (yay sound tech whoever you are). And they were tight, tight, tight. And cheeky without being annoying. The lighting was fantastic - simple and impressive, and working really well with the music. It gives me hope to see such young guys (lead singer is now 21, but they've been around a few years) doing such fresh and ... committed ... stuff. As for the crowd, I expected more from the floor. There was some bouncing and bobbing, a few legs jutting up from the occasional body-surfer, but with a band that has that sort of energy you expect more. The people standing behind us on the balcony bounced more than most of those on the floor. Weird. I know, I know, ridiculous complaint from a person who sat through the whole thing.... I got home at 4, , and got about 4 hours sleep before I had to get up for cultural event #2 - The Andersen Project (actually, had to get up because the phone rang, but same difference in the end).

It is seldom that you get to see a master actor, and a master creator, at the top of his or her form. Robert Lepage's The Andersen Project ... is one such show. If you have to borrow the cash, or sleep with someone to get a ticket, do it - Natalie Bennett, Blogcritics Yup, that about sums it up. I first saw a Lepage play in Toronto - The Far Side of the Moon, that he has subsequently made into a film that I haven't seen so can't comment on. But the play blew me away. Not even the unfortunate ex-boyfriend I saw it with could ruin that experience. The story was painful and beautiful and funny, and the production made my head spin - apart from being a fantastic actor, Lepage is a technical genius, using very complex technical tricks to bring very simple, beautiful things to the stage. The same can be said of The Andersen Project. I'm not going to go over the plot, except to say it involves a French Canadian librettist that has been asked to write a play about Hans Christian Andersen for the Paris Opera. The play is really all about isolation and connection, identity and otherness - which I really The Far Side of the Moon is all about too - and it is genius. It is a one man show, and Lepage inhabits his characters so smoothly and completely that you really forget the one-man-show conceit. As the pal I was with said afterwards, while his shifting between characters is fantastic and one of the wonders of the play, the play would be just as strong if each character was played by someone else - which isn't always the case with one man shows. The fact that this is all Lepage's doing - the writing, the acting, the staging - is incredible. I find it hard to believe that one human being can have so much talent. So - if you have a chance, go see it. It is playing in Vancouver all month. Try to get centrally located seats, as some of the staging is a bit hard to see from seats on the far sides. It is worth the $70. Really. That opinion may not be shared by a couple of people sitting behind us that got up and left part way through, but I'm guessing they were expecting to see a fairy tale, and not something that involved porn booths and psychologically disturbed pets...but I've said too much.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

lepage - wow!!! things have been crazed here. i have missed you. email me when you can (my mac is giving me grief and i can't access my address book! urgh!!!)