The Magnetic North Theatre Festival, nearing the end of its glorious two-week run in Vancouver, showcases Canadian work in a smorgasbord of plays from across the country. Sometimes the tastiest treats turn out to be homegrown.
For HIVE2, eleven of Vancouver’s edgiest small companies reprise the experience of 2006 when they first joined forces to present a program of eleven mini-plays in a single venue. One ticket gets you into a large warehouse on the Great Northern Way campus where you line up to be part of the small audiences that see each company’s 10 or 15 minute show, off in a tiny room in some corner of the space.
It’s like a very compressed version of the Fringe Festival or Disneyland. What line should I stand in next? If I get into Show A at 7:30, I’ll miss Show B at 7:40, but maybe I can catch it at 8:15 after Show C at 8:00. Although I managed to see seven in three hours, I spent a lot of time standing in line. Like the Fringe, it’s also somewhat hit and miss. But the hits had my head a-buzzing.
Leaky Heaven Circus’ two actors illustrate the way optical illusions play remarkable tricks on the mind. Theatre Replacement has James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto act out viewers’ online comments on YouTube videos that you watch (“Bunny vs. Dog”; “Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno”). It’s bizarre and wonderful. For Theatre Conspiracy you’re blindfolded, put into an orange jumpsuit, and terrorized to suggest what a Gitmo rendition might feel like.
The most fully developed playlet, Electric Company’s 13 minute-long The Flannigan Affair, is a surrealist Victorian melodrama, brilliantly written, performed and designed by Jonathon Young with five other actors, and directed with panache by Kim Collier. The Only Animal presents an extraordinary show for one audience member at a time. You view much of it through a microscope.
Treat yourself to this or any of the five other remaining MagNorth shows before they’re gone.