The 24th Annual Vancouver New Play Festival


By Violetta Lapinski

CRIMINAL by Elizabeth Dancoes
Director: Peter Hinton
Arts Club Revue Theatre
November 7th-23rd
Tickets: 687-1644, 685-6228
or Ticketmaster at 280-3311

Spanning over 200 years and 11 generations, 4 performers metamorphise through 24 character changes, telling the powerful and painful story of a woman searching for her identity, her roots, her purpose.

Set on an ethereal early American Gothic stage, Criminal pulls focus in shades of heaven and hell. Coloured blotted in gauzy whites, celestial blues and accented by deep blood red, the stage performs magic with its ensemble cast using the four elements of Mother Earth: fire, earth, water and air. The actors rage with and against the social politics of religion, equality, domestic violence, motherhood, generation gaps, ownership, sense of duty, belonging. A poignant and dreamy musical score curls through the beautifully-lit scenes of dappled sunlight, flames and twilight by Alan Brodie. Light and gossamer costume designs by Karen Matthews complement the spiritual aura of the play.

A captivating cast kindles the audience’s emotional senses evoking sorrow, anger and frustration. Brenda Robins, Tamsin Kelsey, Wendy Van Riesen and Donald Adams are deeply connected to the material and create vivid personality textures with grace and sensitivity.

This handsomely crafted play by Elizabeth Dancoes may not be understood by all, yet it leaves one to question, wonder, emphasize, feel. An accomplishment by all standards.