Vicious Games

Cafe Deux Soleils - February 8

Thursday nights, ongoing, $5 cover

I Wish I Had Thought of That....

by Christine Dahlo

Improv means no blocking, no saying no, and definitely no wimping out. The six players of "Vicious Games" had those rules down, and the result was fresh and frequently hilarious theatresports.

Vicious Games takes more dares and challenges from its audience than you see down at the Arts Club. They'll take better suggestions from their audience-such as when David Jones asked for a place people gather and received "graveyard", they ran with it. At the Arts Club they'd probably take "bar". Yes, non-obvious theatresports in this town is Vicious Games!

In one game, where the players could only speak in a set order, they improvised a scene about an intense game of dominoes. The scene began with three guys, and ended with a father and his two sons, former domino champions strategizing how to regain their former glory. They created a story and relationships from the barest of premises. I saw these actors go beyond saying the first funny things they thought of and into creating raw drama.

The show moved rapidly. Scenes were not allowed to go on too long, and the players skilfully brought about swift resolutions to their creations. The games got even tougher in the second round as PJ and Len, the chosen ones, played against one another with the help of pros Diana Francis, Toby Berner and Ian Boothby. And in a vicious twist lifted from a certain TV show, the remaining four players judge and score each player.

To keep things interesting, organizer David Jones designed the show to "push the envelope" and offer players tougher scenes for bonus points. PJ pushed for 300 extra points and played "Typewriter". A player begins writing a story as it is acted out. The "Untold Story of ...Popcorn" (nosepicking was rejected as too obvious, yay!) ended up as an epic battle for one moviegoers heart - between Famous Players and Cineplex, Real Butter and butter topping. The constant rotation of writers and role-players kept it moving.

A lot of games require fast changes. I was impressed with the concentration the players displayed. They were thinking and listening to each other all the time. The alphabet scene (speaking in sentences which start with letters A through Z, in order), the sequence speaking scene, "Sit, Stand, Lie Down" (One player must occupy one position at all times), "Slideshow", freeze tag, Space Jump, all of these challenges required tremendous attention between players of "Vicious Games".

Cafe Deux Soleil provided an intimate venue for the show-perhaps a little too intimate when the dinner chatter would not allow the players to hear audience suggestions clearly, and the audience missed a bit of action in the din. The show also competes for attention with ones food-its hard to yell out suggestions when ones mouth is full of tasty dinners. Get a table at the front, drink lots of wine, and untie your tongue.

Dona Flor and her Two Husbands

The Vancouver East Cultural Centre

presents Electric Company's 3-act play adapted from Jorge Amado's novel Dona Flor e seus dois maridos (1966) at the CULTCH March 3-10, 8pm.  Tickets: 280-3311 or Ticketmaster.


by Ed Farolan

The Electrical Company lives up to its name presenting electrifying productions such as this one.  For the weak of heart who are shocked at nudity on stage, I suggest this is not the show to watch.  For voyeurs, perverts and art lovers, this is definitely for you.

I remember watching the movie version on Showcase TV a few years back, and I found the plot quite interesting.  It's a story of a widow, Dona Flor (Carmen Aguirre) whose ghost husband Vadinho (Ty Olsson) comes back to haunt her.

Ty Olsson is nude in most of his scenes (as a ghost should be, I suppose) and Carmen Aguirre becomes flesh incarnate during her wedding night scene and towards the end, where, in a surrealistic twist, she joins her husband in hell. Olsson did a good job as the dynamic, typically intense and passionate Latino, while Aguirre was the more laid back Dona Flor.  It made for a good contrast in character.

Other than the nudity aspect, I found the Latin flavour of this production come out with the Carnival scenes, with a Latin group playing the samba and Brazilian Carnival music.  I also, as well as the audience, enjoyed the multiple stage technique used in this production where we leave the CULTCH  after the first act and go to another venue, the Wise Hall, for the second act, and then return to the CULTCH for the final act.

It's a fun play, with dance, song, the Carnival costumes of Mardi Gras, and the Latin flavour put in by the Latino Theatre Group of Carmen Aguirre.

This reminds me of the plays of the seventies, "the happenings", where actors would interact with the audience. It would have been nice if the actors got the audience dancing the samba in the Casino scene, but then, that would have made the production longer and therefore, not as effective

The only thing I didn't agree with was the idea of having a 3-act rather than a 2-act play. The almost three hour production with two intermissions was a bit too long. Perhaps cutting down on some scenes that I found repetitive would  also help in cutting down the running time.

But all in all, this was an "electrifying" production, and congratulations to the cast and crew for a job well done.