David Mackay & Melissa Poll in the Arts Club 2008 production of Cyrano de Bergerac



Axis Theatre

The Number 14

Dates and Venue 2 - 26 July 2009 at 8pm (Matinees Fri. 4pm, Sat. & Sun. at 2pm) | Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Although physical theatre (which is this company's mandate) isn't my cup of tea, the audience on opening night seemed swayed by the singing, circus acts, dancing and mime play of six talented performers who played multiple roles aboard Vancouver’s #14 bus.

I spoke to Director Wayne Specht and he said that this might be the last round. After all, the show has been around for 17 years, almost as long, if not longer, than the long-playing Tony 'n Tina's Wedding. They've performed in Italy, Finland, Scotland, Japan and they've revised the text to blend with the ambience. In Japan, they added some Japanese dialogues which was appreciated by the Japanese audience, he said,

Wayne Specht and Roy Surette based the play from a series of improvisational skits, offering audiences a slice of life in what takes place in public transit, in this case, Vancouver Bus No. 14 that operates the Hastings route where all types of urban characters are seen, from seniors on their way to Bingo games, to noisy school kids and other eerie characters who sometimes disgust you. I heard some moans and groans from the audience when some seedy types would enter the bus and do their hoi-poloi acts.

The performers in this show are quite talented, and each ably danced, sang and even trapezed all over the bus. However, the low-brow comedy and slapstick humour was somewhat disappointing. Many sketches went on for far too long, especially the scene where a blabbermouth annoys a Filipino businessman. I also didn't like the scene where a man would leave his spit on the bus. I found this disgusting. Apparently, as the show evolved through the years, new material was added, such as the inclusion of the most recent pandemic, swine flu, in the text and other such references current to today's happenings.

I liked the mime scenes, especially the first scene where the actors in business suits go through the robotic routine of taking the bus to go to work, and likewise, the very creative and clever use of magazine pictures in another scene.

This is the kind of show you either like or don't like; and even if I didn't like most of the scenes, somehow, the majority who attended opening night liked most of the skits. After all, the majority wins. Furthermore, if a show has been on for 17 years, it must be good somehow.


© 2009 Ed Farolan