The best of Vancouver theatre in 2018.

Each year, the contributors at Vancouver Presents take a look back at the previous twelve months to identify those shows that impacted us, both artistically and personally.

As has been our tradition over the past ten years, we present below the best of Vancouver theatre in 2018, chosen by Vancouver Presents contributors Katie Gartlan-Close, David C Jones, Mark Robins, and Chelsey Stuyt (our newest contributor Christine Pilgrim will join us in our picks next year).

Rather than any attempt at ranking, we simply list the ten best in alphabetical order. And to once again prove how difficult it is to pick only ten, we also present a bonus five deserving of special mention, and yet another five who would normally not be recognized in this annual list.

As always, we remain grateful to the Vancouver and touring companies who continue to invite us to see their shows. Between us, we saw in excess of 100 shows in 2018 and remains a testament to the enormous amount of creative work being produced by Vancouver’s theatre community.

We encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution to go see some live theatre in 2019. Our city is lucky to have such a vibrant arts scene, but they cannot do it without you, the audience.

A Steady Rain (Seven Tyrants Theatre)

Tightly wound and theatrically intriguing: A Steady Rain (Seven Tyrants Theatre) – not the first local theatre company to tackle Keith Huff’s thriller, but this one found the heart of this gritty police tale thanks to two terrific performances.

Daniel Deorksen and David Newham give compelling performances in A Steady Rain.
Daniel Deorksen and David Newham give compelling performances in A Steady Rain.

As You Like It – (Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival)

Musical Shakespeare: As You Like It (Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival)– this fusion of Shakespeare and Beatles’ music was the hit of the summer, bringing a whole new meaning to the jukebox musical.

Lindsey Angell as Rosalind and Nadeem Phillip as Orlando groove to the Beatles' music which is a big part of the Bard on the Beach production of As You Like It. Photo by Tim Matheson.
Lindsey Angell as Rosalind and Nadeem Phillip as Orlando groove to the Beatles’ music which is a big part of the Bard on the Beach production of As You Like It. Photo by Tim Matheson.

Awkward Hug (Cory Thibert)

What loves means: Awkward Hug (Cory Thibert) – our only show from this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival to make our list, this story will reminded us of the power of love.

Cory Thibert embodies his 19-year-old self as he uncovers the truth behind what sets his family apart.
Cory Thibert embodies his 19-year-old self as he uncovers the truth behind what sets his family apart.

Beauty Queen of Leenane (Ensemble Theatre Company)

Dreaming of a happy life: Beauty Queen of Leenane (Ensemble Theatre Company) – not for the faint of heart, this one was expertly crafted and performed.

Kirsten Slenning and Tanja Dixon-Warren in the Ensemble Theatre Company production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Photo by Derek Fu.
Kirsten Slenning and Tanja Dixon-Warren in the Ensemble Theatre Company production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Photo by Derek Fu.

C’mon, Angie! (Flying Start Touchstone Theatre & Firehall Arts Centre)

Heartfelt, hurtful, and all too familiar: C’mon, Angie! (Flying Start Touchstone Theatre & Firehall Arts Centre) – the dramatic tension came from the actors’ commitment to seeing out an impossible conversation.

Robert Moloney and Kayla Deorksen in C'mon, Angie! Photo by Tim Matheson.
Robert Moloney and Kayla Deorksen in C’mon, Angie! Photo by Tim Matheson.

Fun Home (Arts Club Theatre Company)

Fresh and open-hearted: Fun Home (Arts Club Theatre Company) – powerful laughs combined with gut wrenching drama make this one of the best shows our reviewer had ever seen at the Arts Club.

Jaime MacLean, Glen Gordon, Nolen Dubuc, and Janet Gigliotti in the Arts Club Theatre Company Production of Fun Home. Photo by David Cooper.
Jaime MacLean, Glen Gordon, Nolen Dubuc, and Janet Gigliotti in the Arts Club Theatre Company Production of Fun Home. Photo by David Cooper.

Hir (Pi Theatre)

A perfect balance: Hir (Pi Theatre) – absurdity and realism combine in equal measures inside this darkly comic family drama, featuring a bravura performance from Deb Williams.

Deb Williams (Paige), Victor Dolhai (Isaac), and Andrew Wheeler (Arnold) in the Pi Theatre production of Hir. Photo by Tim Matheson.
Deb Williams (Paige), Victor Dolhai (Isaac), and Andrew Wheeler (Arnold) in the Pi Theatre production of Hir. Photo by Tim Matheson.

The Events (Pi Theatre)

Beautifully powerful moments: The Events (Pi Theatre) – the second show from Pi Theatre to make our list this year, David Greig’s drama explored how grief can be all-consuming.

Douglas Ennenberg and Luisa Jojic in the Pi Theatre production of The Events. Photo by Tim Matheson.
Douglas Ennenberg and Luisa Jojic in the Pi Theatre production of The Events. Photo by Tim Matheson.

The Wolves (With A Spoon Theatre in association with Rumble Theatre)

Gooooaaaaallll: The Wolves (With A Spoon Theatre in association with Rumble Theatre) – Sarah DeLappe’s story of a girls’ soccer team packed a punch.

The Wolves: Georgia Beaty, Danielle Klaudt, Kim Larson, Paige Louter, Jalen Saip, Shona Struthers, Amanda Sum, Montserrat Videla, and Ali Watson. Photo by Ron Reed.
The Wolves: Georgia Beaty, Danielle Klaudt, Kim Larson, Paige Louter, Jalen Saip, Shona Struthers, Amanda Sum, Montserrat Videla, and Ali Watson. Photo by Ron Reed.

Topdog / Underdog (Arts Club Theatre Company)

Cain and Abel in the inner-city: Topdog / Underdog (Arts Club Theatre Company) – Michael Blake and Luc Roderique were magnetic as brothers Lincoln and Booth with its view into a world most of us with privilege will likely never fully comprehend.

Michael Blake and Luc Roderique in the Arts Club Theatre Company production of Topdog/Underdog. Photo by David Cooper.
Michael Blake and Luc Roderique in the Arts Club Theatre Company production of Topdog/Underdog. Photo by David Cooper.

Five More that Deserve Mention

Here are five more shows from 2018 that also deserve mention:

  • A Vancouver Guldasta – examining the effects of trauma from violence halfway around the world
  • Butcher (Prime Cuts Collective) – Agatha Christie meets Simon Wiesenthal in a rare stage thriller
  • Mortified (Studio 58) – this magnificently multi-layered world premiere from playwright Amy Rutherford will not be easily forgotten
  • Soul Samurai (Affair of Honor) – creating sparks with a highly physical show
  • Kill Me Now (Touchstone Theatre) – we didn’t get a chance to review this one but it stuck with one of our contributors nonetheless

A Bonus Five

We don’t usually mention remounts or touring shows in our annual list, but there were five such shows in 2018 that really stood out.

And just because we notice such things, there must be something in the water Down Under as three of these shows come from Australia. You may also notice The After Party Girls have made our annual list for the third time: