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vancouverplays review


preview imageSILVERWING
Based on the novel by
Kenneth Oppel
Adapted by Kim Selody
Carousel Theatre Company
Waterfront Theatre
Granville Island
Nov. 29-Dec.30

Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing has apparently become a Canadian kids’ classic in the nine years since its publication and I guess that warrants a certain amount of respect. Because when I saw Carousel’s production of Kim Selody’s theatrical adaptation in the Waterfront at a Saturday matinee, the kids in the audience, averaging about 7 ½ years old, were subjected to an enormous amount of complicated exposition and a two-act show that lasted almost two hours.  Yet they seemed riveted. Any theatre for adult audiences would be grateful for such attentiveness.

The play is about a couple of young bats, Shade (Victor Mariano) and Marina (Maria Jose Romo), fleeing south ahead of various predatory owls, rats, pigeons, and nasty vampire bats (Johann Helf and a funny Josue Laboucane).  There are all sorts of sub-plots and elaborate themes, mostly left to the female bat elders to explain (Corina Akeson, Tamara McCarthy, and Lisa Bunting, whose crisp diction helps a lot).  But never mind the details.  The kids love the melodrama and the endless chase scenes, and of course the goofy comic villains.

But what really stands out is the look: Bryan Pollock’s functional cut-out set, John Webber’s kaleidoscopic pastel lighting, Tim Matheson’s usual fabulous projections.  And the star of the show without a doubt: Alison Green’s cornucopia of marvelous costumes.  Just when you think you’ve seen them all, out come more.  Under their silver velour batwings the young silverwing bats wear what look like skateboarding outfits, while the elders have a Viking look, and the black-winged vampires sport a sort of raffish Moorish style.  The owls might have borrowed their feathered glory from Liberace’s wardrobe, and the rats are right out of Pirates of the Caribbean.

The only production element underutilized by director Carole Higgins is Jeff Tymoschuk’s soundscape, which seems minimal, especially considering that bats have extraordinary sonar systems. But it’s a feast for the eyes and no problem at all for the kids.

Jerry Wasserman