Metro Theatre

Up and Coming by Eric Chapell

Dates and Venue 29 Aug-26 Sep 2009 @ 8.00 p.m. & 2pm Sunday matinees| Metro Theatre, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Despite the half-house, opening night of the first production of Metro's 2009/2010 season was quite delightful. I was amused by the fact that almost everyone stood when the British National Anthem, "God Save the Queen", was played. I honestly thought this was part of the act, but the majority who stood up didn't.

Directed by Paul Kloegman, who also plays Lionel Berryman in this play, this British satire and sex farce by Eric Chapell, the British equivalent of American Neil Simon and Canada's Norm Foster, makes fun of all the intrigues that happen in politics--all the scandals and secrets that are there to be used against ambitious politicians.

I guess this is the norm of politics--backstabbing, unearthing the past in order to slur a reputation, and so forth. Chapell uses sex as the farcical instrument, as this has been mostly the reason for a politician's downfall in any part of the world. However, he gives us, according to Kloegman, "strong political statements" about his views on British politics.

Not unlike the French bedroom farce, where the characters hide in closets and bathrooms, the play is about a Deputy Prime Minister attending a party conference and ending up being compromised as his political enemies try to pin him down after discovering women in a hotel room with him. Jason Dedrick as Deputy Prime Minister Pip Conway reminded me of the young Blair during the first years of his tenure,in his gestures and speech, while his political enemy, George Reynolds (Paul Fisher) had a Chretien look to him. Obviously, he didn't sport the Quebec accent, but he had all the false, hypocritical moves typical of a Chretien and basically, a stereotype of a the typical scheming, backstabbing politician.

Kloegman as an actor is quite impressive as the one-eyed Berryman. I've seen him in past Metro shows and his accent is flawless as he articulates very well. He made sure his actors did the same, and despite the fact that I was sitting at the back row of the theatre, I could understand every word spoken by them.

The lovely Lori Tychkowsky as Vicky was sexy and truly delightful. I was amused by all the different accents she sported in this comedy. This is her first play with Metro and I hope to see more of this talented actress in the future. Heather Evens as Pip's secretary was equally delightful. I liked the transformation from the prudish secretary to her "hot flashes" when she lets her hair down.

Mike Busswood as Higgs, Pip's security man, with his big frame, was enjoyable to watch. His timing was perfect, and he hit those punch lines really well. On the other hand, veteran actor Don Mckay had a few problems with his lines, but with his 40-year experience as an actor, he was able to ham it up and get through his part successfully.

I've repeatedly commented on how impressed I am with Metro's technical aspects, especially the set. Kudos therefore to Tech Director and Sound Designer Miles Lavkulich and his staff, Carpenter Dwayne Campbell, Painter Kristine Kavalec, Set Decorator Paralee Cook, Props Manager Daniel Pelletier, and the rest of the production staff for a wonderful set.

Metro's President, Alison Schamberger, spoke before the play and underlined the fact that everyone in Metro (as in all community theatres) is a volunteer, and that funding for the production depends mostly on season subscriptions. Hopefully the company gets a lot of funding, especially from private sponsors, because Metro has been around for quite a long time. This production is its 443rd. I'd like the Metro tradition to continue. This is real theatre the way theatre should be, unlike many new productions, offshoots of off-Broadway productions where there are minimal sets, and there are no longer those wardrobes and sets of old.

© 2009 Ed Farolan