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Out of This World

You know the storyline in which folks from Hollywood try to prove their artistic chops by doing live theatre? Well, it’s playing out—sort of—three times over in New York City right now: film actor Uma Thurman is leading the cast of _The Parisian Woman_, and comedian Amy Schumer is making her Broadway debut in comic Steve Martin’s new play _Meteor Shower_.

Martin is getting a rough ride from the critics. _Meteor Shower_ is a lifestyle comedy set in LA: two couples duke it out on the battlegrounds of home décor, sex appeal, and therapeutic wellbeing. In the _LA Times_, Charles McNulty ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20299.1.1da6e02820394ad6f26b95948bfa1a83 ) describes Martin’s script as “space junk” and says that Martin’s string of jokes “is barely a play at all.”

Critics have been kinder to Schumer. _Deadline Hollywood_’s Jeremy Gerard ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20300.1.9597ed16968df7640a209013dcab6182 ) calls her work “sensational” for instance, and notes “she’s not playing Amy Schumer, which is probably different from what we expected.”

Thurman is receiving mixed reviews in _The Parisian Woman_, which is about an ambitious Washington hostess named Chloe who uses her sexual wiles to advance her husband’s career. In the _New York Times_, Jesse Green ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20301.1.6f1e7d0f5a1569106d2861ab002fc1d2 ) gives Thurman more slack than some others, saying, “Unlike many actors whose expertise derives from movies, she has no trouble fully inhabiting, and projecting, even a jury-rigged character like Chloe. Her intelligence and, it has to be said, her innate glamour, make it possible to care about someone you do not believe in.”

Why am I telling you about this? Because I think it’s interesting to see how skills from one medium apply—or don’t—in another. And because it’s a good idea for us all to remember how difficult it is to make good theatre.

Standard Bearers

Glenda Jackson, who is 80, was among the winners at the _Evening Standard_ Theatre Awards, which took place on Sunday, December 3.

After serving 25 years as a Labour MP, Jackson returned to the stage to perform the title role in _King Lear_, one of the most demanding parts in the English language and, of course, a role written for a man. In _The Guardian_, Michael Billington ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20302.1.2ad85c02edc3127f40e3798d40488d15 ) wrote, “In an uncanny way, she transcends gender,” and Susanna Clapp ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20303.1.b7ad22797e18ddea91d905af8b5b3eb3 ) evoked Jackson’s “sandpaper voice, gliding movement’ and “complete, ferocious concentration.”

Other winners include Andrew Garfield (Best Actor, for _Angels in America_), Jez Butterworth (Best Play, for _The Ferryman_), and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Most Promising Playwright, for _An Octoroon_).

In this piece ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20304.1.39439182814c4cffb56b7a9faa924cb3 ), from the _Evening Standard_, in which jury members explain their choices, critic Baz Bamigboye praises the “blazing intelligence and raw emotion” that Garfield brings to his portrait of Prior Walter.

The National’s production of _Angels in America_ is transferring to Broadway ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20305.1.facccd9e2571f4f1cdee79e7d2f06f92 ), where it opens on March 28.

In Butterworth’s epic script _The Ferryman_ ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20306.1.632d61a1114c7cca4ede2cc049703328 ), the past comes back to haunt a family in Northern Ireland. Sam Mendes won an award for his direction of the script and actor Tom Glynn-Carney was chosen as the most promising new talent for his performance in the play.

Jacobs-Jenkins’s _An Octoroon_ satirizes the way a 19th-century Irish melodrama presents slavery in Louisiana. _The Guardian_’s Michael Billington ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20307.1.45ba4cdbe3c4d18fc9e59070d4ab29f3 ) describes _An Octoroon_ as “infinitely playful and deeply serious” in its exploration of racial representation.

After Mandrills

In the 20 years of its existence, _The Lion King_ ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20308.1.c59eff5878ac2fea2cbf6469d8d8fa2f )—which has grossed $7.9 billion US, more than any other title in entertainment history—has employed 263 South African performers in its 24 productions. As this article ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20309.1.98b4a5761dbff556c8e771c3f065e422 ) from the _New York Times_ illustrates, the experiences of those performers have varied widely.

Director Julie Taymor ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20310.1.9007dc839393702f47caa4543c34785b ) was instrumental in convincing Actors’ Equity to allow South African actors to appear in the musical. “It’s like the spiritual foundation of _The Lion King_,” she explains. The show is set in South Africa and South African composer Lebo M. composed much of its music, which uses South African languages and choral stylings.

But what’s the lived reality of the artists? After leaving their families behind to tour—often for years—some are able to maintain ongoing careers when they go home to South Africa. Others return to abject poverty. And some find themselves caught between cultures.

Christmas Crackers

Feeling daunted by the holidays? Maybe you should take some advice from performers. Or maybe not.

In this piece ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20311.1.2d813c41925f317d3a3077905b888927 ), a baker’s dozen of British stand-up comics offer their strategies for coping with seasonal anxiety.

Tom Allen suggests: “It’s the season of goodwill, so let people know how they can improve themselves. Maybe they’ve gone for quantity over quality with the mini quiches, or maybe they’re simply dreadful people. Imagine how pleased they’ll be to have you help them.”

What's Up?

You want to see _Onegin_. Trust me. A wicked sore throat kept me away from the opening of the Arts Club’s remount of this show, but I almost fainted from pleasure ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20312.1.5a4eaf321a2ed8e0ebaaa586e48094c2 ) the first time I saw it and people I trust have told me that Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille’s musical reimagining of Aleksandr Pushkin’s poem is even better this time around. It’s at the Granville Island Stage ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20313.1.c5d5bf1a5a16a08ed8dad6aae96b7398 ) until December 31, with some cast changes happening on the 27th.

The Cultch is continuing its Christmas traditions with _Little Dickens_, the Daisy Theatre’s take on _A Christmas Carol_—that’s genius puppeteer Ronnie Burkett’s show at the Historic Theatre—and the raucously family-friendly _The East Van Panto: Snow White & the Seven Dwarves_ at the York.

You can find tickets ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20314.1.c4f4cba618ed706bb4478479b314ba32 ) to both on The Cultch’s website. Here’s my review ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20315.1.d44f126d813b8b937ede74642517fdc8 ) of _Snow White_. And, by the time you read this, I will have posted my take on _Little Dickens_ on my blog ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20316.1.ca738e42a2e06e8a18aa5edbc9553762 ).

The Spectacle of a Mind at Work

In my free weekly newsletter, I publish the best of _Fresh Sheet_ ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20298.1.7e20213f953a00472dbedd4ece063c68 ), links to _all_ of my current reviews—including the warnings—and a whole lot of exclusive content.

This week, for instance, there’ll be an item about criticism and body shaming. And the lead piece, “The Spectacle of a Mind at Work,” will link to an essay that argues that the clearest understanding of a review comes from appreciation of a critic’s thought processes.

There will be no _Fresh Sheets_ on December 21, December 28, or January 4. So, if you want to keep theatre news, reviews, and ideas comin’, sign up here ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20318.1.98cfef03a16f02fc0f70c1692ed61c7b ). (I’ll get a cooler sign-in page soon. I promise.)

Upcoming Events!

**_A Very Merry Fringemas! ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20320.1.425be91d232e98f46e9a65a1e4839028 )_**

Presented by the Vancouver Fringe ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20321.1.cb5ca2b2c01e7add07252cf0981af5c0 )

_December 8, 2017 at Studio 1398_

Come celebrate the season with your favourite Fringers. With a show and a social it’ll be the Fringiest and merriest place to be! Ho Ho Hold the phone, Santa might even make an appearance!

**_Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play_ ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20322.1.d68a35268fa92696406e63b6e81e65fd )**

Presented by Little Mountain Lion ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20324.1.62236f7974189e720a8fe143292ab8bc )

_April 3-21, 2018 at Studio 1398_

After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of _The Simpsons_ episode “Cape Feare” entirely from memory. Seven years later, this and other snippets of pop culture (sitcom plots, commercials, jingles, and pop songs) have become the live entertainment of a post-apocalyptic society, sincerely trying to hold onto its past.

**_Wet_ ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20325.1.5fd542a79451bc493a7d4f5d8b0df299 )**

Presented by ITSAZOO Productions ( http://sable.madmimi.com/c/25838?id=1077448.20327.1.4610d34114ebcfb81f0940c16babf83e )

_May 8-27, 2018 at The Russian Hall_

A soldier returns home from combat after suffering from a head injury. Her husband is forced to become her caregiver while she struggles with PTSD and he tries to unravel the mystery of what exactly happened to her. Tension escalates when a former war comrade shows up unwelcomed and unhinged.



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Vancouver Fringe Festival | 1398 Cartwright St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R8