Skydive & Rowlf Tickles The IvoriesSaturday, January 24, 2009
There is nothing more fun than a pleasant night at the theatre. Sometimes it can be a tad out of the conventional. When you attend an opening performance of just about any show at the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage as we did last night (Skydive) you can expect John Hall to be playing the piano at the end of the stairs by the upstairs bar. Hall has been playing the piano for 40 years and I asked him if he was paid for doing so last night, "I sure hope so," he answered. Hall plays many jazz styles ("I don't do stride.") and seems to specialize in a mean boogie-woogie with a penchant for injecting snippets of Paul Desmond's Take Five into Christmas carols as he did back in December for It's A Wonderful Life. Hall plays low and his arms go wide. He nods his head to the side in enthusiasm and is a spitting image of Rowlf the resident pianist of the Muppet Show.
We sit down at our seats ready for a two or thre act play with a pleasant intermission. Not this time. We are repeatedly told there is no intermission. Hidden in the message is a, "And you better go to the bathroom now while you can."
The music before the curtain opens is usually a pleasant harbinger of things to come. Last night it was impossibly loud heavy metal. I commented to my wife, "I am going to go crazy if this persists." It did but in the context of the play it worked.
The show opened in a most unexpected way (I really recommend to skip the program as it reveals stuff that is better that your find out on your own. The dynamite revelation at the end of the show is best left as a surprise!)
I could write about those four dark dressed guys (they look like US Navy Seals ready to sink a battleship) whose performance with the aerial devices is sheer virtuosity and how a simple mistake on their part could be "crash and burn" for actors Bob Frazer and James Sanders. There is something there to the fact that Bob Frazier (playing younger brother Daniel) never touches ground while James Sanders (plays older brother Morgan) does eventually does. I will not reveal the how here. Again, I repeat, don't read the program.
I wonder not about the dreams that these two brothers have and how they even manage to share one simultaneously. I wonder about playwright Kevin Kerr's dreams. I did so last night and came to the conclusion that Director Roy Surette, above, right, (with co-direction help from Stephen Drover) set designer Yvan Morissette, below left( Was he responsible for those tiny little guys that moved like real people?) and Kevin Kerr top, left, were kidnapped by aliens and while up there in the flying saucer they dreamt this wonderful play that in the end was lifted not by the special effects, but by my extreme jealousy of never having experienced the delight of having a brother. The warmth of the brother's relationship and of John Hall's exuberant piano playing before the performance made me smile. I went home content after another fine evening at the theatre, even if it was not in the least conventional or expected.
Skydive is a Realwheels production presented by the Arts Club Theatre Company and the PuSh International Performing Art Festival. Skydive ends February 7.