Solo Collective
The Project by Aaron Bushkowsky

Dates and Venue 4-15 Nov 2009, 8pm | Performance Works, Granville Island

Reviewer Ed Farolan

On my way out after opening night, I saw Bushkowsky bartending and I quipped: "Playwright serving?" And he answered me, seriously: "Government cuts. Truly, Government cuts." This answer was a reflection of Solo Collective's "celebration" of its tenth anniversary of the World Premiere of this black comedy.

It's funny, but it's grim, that is, both the pinch we're all suffering in the arts because of government priorities (mostly in their own pockets for personal perks) and this play about how not to make a documentary.  It should have a subtitle: "How not to run a BC government".

This is the kind of play we need these days, i.e., dark comedies, because of the situation all of us are in these days. Gone are the days of generous government grants. The government now is saying "Fend for yourselves!" And in this play, we see private companies, mostly Asian, who are willing to invest, but at a price: fundamentalism and the moral way of living. Naturally, Bushkowsky meant this to be tongue-in-cheek.

From an artistic point of view, opening night was a success. If a company makes it 10 years in the business, there must be something good about it. And this play, contentwise, was excellent. Rachel Peake did an excellent job directing this bunch of talented actors. They were funny in a serious way, especially Alvin Sanders (George) and Maiko Bae Yamamoto (Yuki) who articulated very well. Lindsey Angell (Leah) as an up-and-coming producer was entertaining, but what is it with the shoulder bag stuck to her body throughout the show? Is this the new trend in fashion?

I noticed a lisp in Sarah Rodgers (Sophie) which, whether done consciously or unconsciously, added to the comic ingenuity of this actor. (I wonder why "actress" is no longer used. Is this an anti-feminist word?) Andrew McNee (Fred) reminded me of John Reilly (often a co-star with Will Ferrell in his movies). He was full of comic energy playing a down-to-earth filmmaker, similar to many of David Mamet's characters: raw, passionate, intelligent. Sometimes, though, McNee would lose that energy and at times, I hardly could hear him when he started mumbling away.

Perhaps for his next play, Bushkowsky should come up with a play entitled "Government Cuts" and have egotistical politicians trying to screw the Canadian economy, and have the poor citizens of the Arts world with theatre props revolting against them.

© 2009 Ed Farolan