The Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Doing Leonard Cohen

adapted by Blake Brooker - staged by Denise Clarke

Performed by One Yellow Rabbit Ensemble: Denise Clarke, Andy Curtis, Michael Green & Elizabeth Stepkowski

at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, October 14-23, 8pm

Ed Farolan

This is a play I find hard to review.  It's the kind of show your neither like nor dislike.  There were parts that appeared offensive which I obviously disliked because I found them tasteless and unartistic, and other parts which I liked because they were funny lines from Cohen himself. Basically, what I disliked was the interpretation by Blake Brooker of Leonard Cohen's works. He combines dance choreography with the poems in the first act, and does the same for his adaptation of Cohen's novel Beautiful Losers in the second act.

I guess my feelings here are that the dance movements didn't quite fit the meaning of the poems; rather, they were more of a distraction rather than an enhancement.  When one adds movement to a genre like poetry, that movement should enhance and give more meaning to the verse.  In this production, it distracted more than it enhanced.

What I found tasteless too was starting off the play with a nude actor warning everyone that there was nudity and coarse language in this production. Why Brooker did this, I don't know.  Was there a hidden meaning behind this?  Did he perceive Cohen's poetry as "naked" poetry and therefore took this literally?

The choreography by Denise Clarke, one of the actors in this ensemble, where the actors borrow from Kabuki, and show off their expertise at this Japanese art...why? I saw this approach totally out of focus from Cohen's poems.

The other thing I can't stand are long performances especially for experimental productions like this one.  If you do a Chekhov or a Shakespeare, or even an opera, that's fine.  Three and a half hours pass by so quickly.  But for theatre of this nature, one and a half hour is max.  But this show went on agonizingly for two and half hours!

I must say, though, that the actors are seasoned actors.  They must have done this show a number of times, and their pacing and delivery were very good.  It's a pity, though, to waste their talents on a bad script and poor choreography.