Monthly Archives: July 2012

Macbeth features tartan at Bard on the Beach with a powerful performance

Macbeth Theatre review

at Bard on the Beach, Vanier Park, Vancouver

directed by Miles Potter

on until September 20

At one time, Vancouver was a very Scottish colonial city.  It’s first mayor, Malcolm Alexander MacLean was born in Tiree, Scotland. The Scots used to be the #1 ethnicity listed in the Vancouver census.  And on August 25th 1928, a statue of Robert Burns, The Scottish Bard was erected in Stanley Park.  On July 19th, a group of people wearing kilts and tartans went to see Macbeth at Bard on the Beach for several reasons: 1) to mark the 212th anniversary of the passing of Robert Burns on July 21st; 2) Macbeth is known as “The Scottish Play”; 3) wearing kilts is just plain fun!  – Todd Wong

special guest review by Xavier MacDonald – on July 19th


“The Scottish Play”, as it is also known, begins with a tartan bundle centre stage amid the stark, drably beautiful set. Yes tartan is used in the costuming but don’t expect anachronistically kilted warriors everywhere. Here the tartan serves to accent the clean costuming. It is often said of a production and more often striven for that the actors be clothed in something “timeless”. Bard’s Macbeth achieves it in a way that most productions can only hope to. Costumer Mara Gottler shows us genius.


There is little to criticize in this excellent production and if I were to criticize it would really only be me being picky about minor points and not representative of this outstanding production so let me just quickly give you a taste of what is so right about this show. The performances range from solid to outstanding. Where Duncan is often presented as a shallow king with little substance who leaves the stage early, Bernard Cuffling plays him as a truly noble and worthy king whose loss actually feels like a tragedy. Craig’s Ericson’s Banquo is more than serviceable right up until his death after which he becomes chillingly realized.


The coronation dinner always seems a difficult scene to pull off demanding more of the macabre than most versions can present, but the company at Bard on the Beach serves it fantastically where it is actually terrifying and deeply affecting. Another tough scene to pull off for modern audiences is the porter scene. It’s just so full of contemporary (to Shakespeare) references that it too often seems to mean little to a modern audience. John Murphy makes it look like child’s play. He brings it right to us and makes me feel like he’s simply letting me understand him.


Oh, and I could crow on and on about how powerful and ambitious, sexy and even loving Colleen Wheeler’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth is, but I will strive to be concise and merely state that she is not only the stately raven, dark and cunning, but the whole horrifying murder embodied herself. It’s worth the price of admission just to see tragic fate turn back on her. The shining clarity that the Macbeths are unaware of the changes to themselves and their environment that each bloody action initiates is vividly clear from scene to scene until they are indeed steeped so far in blood that there is no turning back.


The real strength in Macbeth is that the pieces all work together as a whole. There is a fantastic unity to the piece where all the performances, design, technical and directorial elements of the play are working together to support one another and accomplishing their respective tasks to make each other look good.  It’s team work folks and it’s beautiful to see a company, any company reaching such heights.  If I were to offer any criticism I would say that you probably shouldn’t expect to be wowed by the battle scenes. Some of the sword play is very simple and sometimes that’s a good thing amid the starkness of this production, but sometimes it left me wanting more.


If you’re looking for an uncommonly good production of Macbeth you are unlikely to ever do better than director Miles Potter’s outstanding accomplishment at Bard on the Beach this summer. It might be the only time this play has its superstitious curse removed and consciously so.  Do yourself a favour and catch it.  You deserve it.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team is the fastest 16 paddler team at Harrision Dragon Boat Regatta

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team team paddles in their 2nd race of the day, which they came 1st in.   Deb Martin is drummer and Manfred Preuss is guest steers – photo Marion Fang

Summary of  dragon boat racing at Harrison Dragon Boat Regatta by Karl Castillo

Congratulations to our successful Harrison Dragon Boat Regatta on July 21st.  Paddling with only 15 from Gung Haggis and a borrowed paddler from the combine MetroVancouver 44 Cheeks / SwordFish team, we did a lot better than we have expected.  Thanks to Manfred and Shawn for the excellent steering, Deb Martin for being an excellent drummer, and Anne Darrousin for being able to paddle even without practice for almost a month during her vacation.

We paddled far beyond our expectations and here are the results:

Race 10 (200m) Lane 2: 4th – 0:59.750
Race 27 (my lucky number and bday, 500m) Lane 3: 1st – 2:34.280
Race 35 (500m) Lane 1: 4th – 2:33.280
Race 49 (500m, D Final Consolation) Lane 2: 5th – 2:43.870

For the record, the time of everyone in that heat increased dramatically as well.

For 16 people we were expected to be in the lower division (ie. E consolation/final), however, because of passion and heart that everyone showed. We have beaten the odds and made it to a division where we would be considered as underdogs.

Good racing. Have a well earned sleep and alcohol.

Once again, congratulations to the fastest 16-paddler boat!

Xanadu delights with historical cultural confusion and fun!

Now playing until August 4
Granville Island Stage


Take the name of the Kubla Khan palace visited by Venetian explorer Marco Polo in 1275, mix in some Greek muses and powerful gods such as Zeus, Hera and Aphrodite, stir in some 1970’s pop music by Olivia Newton-Johna and Electric Light Orchestra, and re-write the forgotten 1980 Newton-John/ Gene Kelly movie Xanadu as a 1980’s spoof musical and we have a fun cultural mash-up parody.

I admit I collected the records of Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newtow-John in the 1970’s and early 80’s.  And I did see the movie on plane trip back from Hawaii.  So I was definitely musically prepared to see this show.  I had also googled the Xanadu Broadway musical, and found this promotional youtube video.

Xanadu the Musical – Sizzle! – YouTube Apr 2008 – 4 min – Uploaded by XanadutheMusical
Scenes and interviews From the Xanadu the Musical on Broadway! For more, visit

The Arts Club has done an amazing job in a small space at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage.  It’s not the large Broadway theatre production, but it is a perfect size for summer theatre.

The  general story arc is a young artist contemplates suicide, but is inspired by a female figure that encourages him to create his dream – where all the arts of music, dance, art and theatre can come together in one place – a roller disco!

Gaelan Beatty plays Sonny, the distraught artist who is dressed in a jean vest and head band like somebody from a 1984 Bruce Springsteen concert.  Marlie Collins is the Greek muse come to life, and disguised with an Australian accent, while wearing roller skates and legwarmers that came out of Olivia Newton-John’s 1982 music video Physical.  Both do a great job, speaking seriously about the importance of art and creative inspiration, while referencing 1980’s icons and events.

Vincent Tong is a magnificient multi-tasker playing multiple roles as a muse, a cyclops, and a Gene Kellyesque dancer.  It is amazing watching the entire cast sing and dance with smiles on their faces.  They really look like they are having so much fun.

This production has even added some of the more famous songs by Electric Light Orchestra and Olivia Newton-John from the ’70’s such as Strange Magic, Evil Woman and Have You Never Been Mellow – that weren’t originally featured in the 1980 movie.  They are integrated seamlessly into the storyline.


more later – tw






Here are some videos from the Arts Club website.

Dean Paul Gibson
& Lisa Stevens
Gaelan Beatty
& Marlie Collins
Behind the Scenes