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Friday, June 14, 2024

Theatre review: An Intervention is entertaining, meaningful and beautifully crafted theatre

Mitch and Murray Productions presents An Intervention at Performance Works on Granville Island through March 17.

An Intervention by British playwright Mike Bartlett is the epitome of entertaining, meaningful and beautifully crafted theatre. 

Mitch and Murray Productions’ Canadian premiere of the play opens with staccato shots of Pinteresque nonsequiturs fired back and forth between two close friends named anonymously as ‘A’ and ‘B’ and played brilliantly by Kate Craven and Christiaan Westerveld, respectively. One is a tiny Cockney spitfire with an alcohol problem, and the other is a tall, droll, more thoughtful fellow who has fallen in love with the wrong woman. 

Their arguments centre around a timely, though non-specific, Middle Eastern conflict. The play’s quick-witted, caustic humour draws the audience in from the get-go. Underlying it are much darker issues and we are soon taken on a bumpy ride that delves into the characters’ personal tragedies and the more global ones.

It’s a play about boundaries, how much one country should intervene in the crises of another, at the same time exploring the boundaries that friends cross in their relationships and their possible outcomes.

Set in England, An Intervention just as easily applies to Canadian circumstances, especially in cities such as Vancouver, where today’s social isolation can so easily cause mental illness and addiction. 

As A’s and B’s arguments over the escalating Middle Eastern crisis intensify, so does their criticism of each other’s choices, she with her derision of his romantic partner and he with his concern over her drinking habits.

Director Aaron Craven’s inspired direction highlights the questions Bartlett poses through skillful pacing and economy as the actors swoop to respond to each other. An Intervention bounds through 80 minutes to a bizarre, gut-wrenching ending all too soon.   

David Roberts’s adaptable set and Jenifer Darbellay’s equally simple but effective costumes, changed onstage by Craven and Westerveld as part of the action, indicate the passage of time between each encounter, so the audience’s total involvement is not interrupted. 

A ‘must-see,’ An Intervention is ironically funny, shockingly tense, and desperately sad all at once. Because it only relies on two expert actors, a visionary director, a minimalist set and costumes, and an efficient skeleton crew, it could and should tour the country, even the world, after its run at Performance Works ends on March 17. 

An Intervention by Mike Bartlett. Directed by Aaron Craven. A Mitch and Murray Productions presentation. On stage at Performance Works on Granville Island (1218 Cartwright St, Vancouver) until March 17. Visit for tickets and information.

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