Saturday, October 03, 2009

THIS END UP - Artist in Residence scores another hit with local actors at the ACT

In times when government at all levels are punishing arts and cultural funding programs at every turn, it is heartening and encouraging to see that where there is will, there is not only way, but a right way.

Nigel Harvey's productions meet and exceed all that can be seen as positive in community theatre. He draws on local stories, uses local actors and production teams and thereby manages to put together modest yet accomplished productions that demonstrate that first rate entertainment is capable of blossoming in even the most remote outskirts of the Metro Vancouver.

Audiences always have their favourite actors and moments. For me the compelling and most watchable pair in this particular production were Allan Ross Noble and Jake Keanu Pires. On the subject of watchable it has to be said that for Radio Haney the young lady dusting off the Megatech emblem in the office scene to the terms 'compelling and watchable' to new levels. How could one not watch - even at the risk of losing the plot. This was casting on speed-dial.

The sets, masks and prop movement were first rate. I loved the fish at the end and did not mind in the least that they did not retreat into the ceiling in unison, but rather in stages. Martin Xavier McDonald found a role (well, Nigel found it for him, to be fair) which suited ideally his grand, floating intensity. Watch and listen to Xavier when he is on a rant, or watch him still and silent; it is always interesting.

When an audience and the players are sharing an educational, development process, moving through the scenes in tandem then the risk of failure or misunderstanding, a dropped line, a missed queue, is enough to keep the tension. And so it was.

On the downside we still need to teach our younger acts to speak up and preferably speak facing the audience. I could see people straining to hear and worse, losing interest now and then when the dialogue became inaudible. Not for the the first time, I dare say. Mumbling does nothing for me.

It was a great evening overall and the sponsors and the ACT can be happy to have Nigel batting for them. Of deeper significance is the fact that local theatre like this plants in our community the seeds of awareness and intellectual understanding that relieve us from the typical, local drudgery that too often reminds us of the imperfections of society.

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