Daneil Frost (Romulus Brown) and Jamies Ives (Mayor) go head-to-head in Pieces of Eight. Photo by Taylor Kare.
Daneil Frost (Romulus Brown) and Jamies Ives (Mayor) go head-to-head in Pieces of Eight. Photo by Taylor Kare.

Billing itself as “a play about how to buy a house in Vancouver”, playwright Nathan Narusis gets full marks for drawing in the crowd with the topicality of Pieces of Eight.

Despite its promise though, I’m not buying what they’re selling.

Frustrated by Vancouver’s sky-high housing costs, eight Millennials and Gen-Xers come together to purchase a house in Kitsilano. Led by Romulus Brown, anachronistically and eccentrically dressed as his Roman namesake, the eight undergo psychology testing to determine their suitability for purchasing a share in the house.

Seeded by an original five, three other occupants join to include a police officer, a survivalist, and someone who conveniently declares they can fix anything.

There are also the house rules, including not having sex in the house for the first six months. Rules are meant to be broken though, and the eight take little time in pairing up to break this cardinal. For good measure, between the verbosity, Narusis adds inevitable household clashes and an unrequited love story.

Being Vancouver, the Mayor is in the back pocket of the evil developers who see the group as a threat to their stranglehold on the city’s housing. Looking for any reason to break up this social experiment, they bring trumped-up charges against them. It is then up to Romulus to plead their case.

Is it a satire? A tragedy? A soap opera? Or perhaps a simple how-to? Unfortunately, Pieces of Eight is never clear what it wants to be. I would have much rather read the prospectus.

Pieces of Eight continues at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (1412 Cartwright St, Vancouver) as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.