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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Theatre review: Take 5 features some strong talent

Five different short plays from three directors features strong talent

Take 5 is an eclectic evening of theatre featuring some strong talent in five very different pieces, ranging from a quiet character study, to an absurdist take on corporate culture.

The result is a program that feels much like a showcase of talent, rather than a cohesive whole. Luckily there is a great deal of talent on display in this 90-minute intermission-less show.

Icarus by Sharr White features two people sharing a bus seat on a seven-hour ride. Sometime they narrate their experience with each other, and sometimes they talk directly to each other. He is a single biologist and she is a woman travelling with her wedding dress to meet her intended. They start off cold to each other but grow to like each other.

Under Christy Webb’s direction Eduard Witzke and Jennifer Pielak give warm and natural performances in this sweet piece.

You Belong to Me by Daniel Reitz continues the transportation theme, as a weary shopper notices that the vagrant on the subway is someone she had a crush on a long time ago. He has fallen on very hard times and says he is quite smelly and the he cleared out the train car because of his odor.  She doesn’t seem to mind or notice as they reminisce about expectations of youth versus reality.

Christy Webb directs Diana Bang and Timothy Paul Coderre, and once again she shows her skills at getting legitimate and relaxed performances from her actors.

The stakes and energy ramp up in the third piece My Friend Andrea written and performed by Raina von Waldenburg and directed by Peter Bingham. Based on a horrifying true story, a high-strung woman invites the audience to her cooking show. She is so twitchy and manic because her religious neighbor Andrea has just drowned her five children because of postpartum psychosis.

Von Waldenburg gives a very disturbing performance, as pieces of white bread become her neighbor’s children, and the egg batter the bathtub. It is creepy as hell.

…this showcase of actors feels like an end-of-term acting school project, albeit with radiant and polished professional actors.

A Second of Pleasure by Neil Labute features an older woman heading onto a train with her younger lover, when she suddenly has second thoughts. The two talk, bicker, negotiate, and plead, and as we watch, we really don’t know where the story is headed.

Jennifer Copping directs a torn and passionate Jenn Griffin, and a confused and needy Nathaniel Middleton; they are spontaneous and wavering, defeated and hopeful. It is a bubbly, and unpredictable look at infidelity.

The final short is Executive Dance, a giddy piece of absurdity by Joe DiPietro. An unseen CEO of the large corporation has demanded all of executives attend a dance social, but since so few of the staff are female many of the men have to dance together.

Steven is played with confidence and charm by Richard Meen, confident in knowing how to win and climb the ladder to success. Jonathan, played with a hangdog desperation by Darren L Hopwood, is a glass half empty kind of fella.

Under Christy Webb’s direction this business-suited odd couple, who dance the foxtrot and merengue, is a very fun look at office politics.

Each of the five short plays features slick slides from Cameron Fraser and Sean Tyson adds varied lighting to compliment the overall evening. The stage management team also does wonders, quickly changing between each play.

With three of the pieces about travel, it might have been interesting to have a consistent theme, with two more travel or transitional themed plays. Instead this showcase of actors feels like an end-of-term acting school project, albeit with radiant and polished professional actors.

Take 5 continues at the Vancity Culture Lab at The Cultch (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) until October 23. Visit for tickets or visit for information.

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