A Tale of Two Comedies


One of my old professors posts frequently and publicly on Facebook and I read those posts without technically “following” him–that’s a thing non-stalkers do, right?–and the other day he mentioned OBIT at the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

B-cat took me to see it a couple of days ago. It’s a two-chuckle play for me, with tired (and at times homophobic) jokes from the script writers and disappointing acting from all except Marnie Mahannah, a real girl surrounded by line-reciting marionettes.

Okay, Richard Archer was charming, too, in his own way

Only the elderly members of the audience, the ones holding glasses of wine, were laughing. Still, I held my tongue after the show until B-cat began talking about the fart joke-level of humour and wooden performances. He hadn’t known shows got into the Fringe by lottery rather than merit. In the end, it was his gentle mockery of OBIT that gave us a laughter-filled evening.

The Fringe has a million billion shows–try your luck!


Two weeks before that, I took B-cat to hear Rossini’s Barber of Seville at Bard on the Beach. Why is the Shakespeare festival putting on unrelated operas? Who knows? At least they do it better than Vancouver Opera.

The production features UBC opera students and Vancouver Opera Orchestra musicians. The stage is the one looking out onto the park–it’s almost as beautiful as the music. Everyone contributes to this sincere, delightful performance; Geoffrey Schellenberg’s Figaro, in particular, stands out with his humorous ways and strong voice, plastic wig be damned.

On our way out, we passed an attendee who was asking Schellenberg about his career. The latter said he was heading to Calgary Opera, which is pretty nice, even if Vancouver won’t have him. (It’s not eavesdropping if they’re loud, right?)

The chocolate’s not bad, either

In short, UBC Opera is awesome and the world needs more student operas. Bard on the Beach doesn’t list any operas for next season, but hey there’s plenty of Shakespeare.


TV — on Stage! Fawlty Towers at Metro Theatre

Hours before posting my previous review, I caught Fawlty Towers at the Metro Theatre in Vancouver. Unfortunately this review comes four days too late for you to see John Cleese and Connie Booth’s creation for yourself (my bad!), but hey, there’s always Youtube.

Polly signed my programme

To summarise, Fawlty Towers is about the interaction among the owners (the pretentious yet lovable Basil and his quick-witted but equally quick-tongued wife Sybil) of and guests (colourful in a positive sense, though not in the “ethnic diversity” sense) at the namesake hotel.

Even if you hadn’t heard of it — I hadn’t until B-cat’s old coworker invited us to see the latter’s sibling on stage — you would’ve seen Monty Python at some point or another, in one form or another. (And if not, I assume because you’d been abstaining from technology for decades, just think of any English television show you’ve seen in the past and then get off the Internet, you Amish hippie.)

In either case, you should have an idea of what British humour is like. Fawlty Towers, which is three episodes of the British telly, which makes me feel a bit uneasy about paying to see it, is a very fine example of British humour. After all, it’s not only written by John Cleese, the only person everyone recognises from Monty Python, but also performed by an excellent cast headed by Chris Dellinger, who I’d say could be the best Cleese impersonator in the world if it wouldn’t sound like an insult to the former’s talents, since Dellinger brings a youthful, mischievous charisma to the character of Basil that the original, though superior in deadpanning, lacks. Which Basil is better is really up to taste.

While the aye-yai-yai-ing stereotype who is Manuel (the oppressed waiter/bellhop from Barcelona, played on stage by Tom Kavadias) is almost as jarring in a 2015 context as the blackface in the ballet La Bayadere, Fawlty Towers is otherwise as fresh and funny today as it was when people still watched TV.

While I wouldn’t have gone to this if I had seen more than one episode beforehand, I highly enjoyed the production (and admired Robin Richardson‘s beautiful and efficiently designed set!) and look forward to seeing more from director Alison Schamberger and the others involved in recreating this bit of classic English fun, if only for a few hours.