What’s happening in Vancouver theatre this May

Genevieve Fleming stars in Slamming Door Collective’s presentation of Edward Bond’s The Sea at Jericho Arts Centre.

New plays this month a piece from acclaimed Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour with a different actor each night, a satire by British playwright Edward Bond, a youth theatre festival and lots more. Check out what’s coming up in theatre in May below. Netflix is so 2018.


Dead People’s Things (until May 5, Studio 16, 1555 W. 7th Ave.)—Based on true events, this dark comedy from Zee Zee Theatre Company is a “reflection on the stories behind the things we collect as we go through life.” It “tells the story of Phyllis, a millennial who inherits a house and all of its contents after her estranged hoarder aunt commits suicide. Phyllis must then collaborate with her neighbour Beatrice, who has been named executor of the estate, to understand the life of a woman she barely knew through the myriad, eclectic items she left behind.” ($28–34 at theatrewire.com)

BLANK (April 30 – May 4, PL1422 at 1422 William St.) – The Canadian premiere production of BLANK by Nassim Soleimanpour, “an interactive experience where audience and performer collide and collaborate to spark a new, moving life story each night.” Iranian playwright Soleimanpour (White Rabbit Red Rabbit) is known for creating plays without directors, sets and rehearsals. “BLANK reverses the typical theatre experience: A script riddled with blanks leaves the audience in charge of how the story will unfold.” ($20 at rumble.org)

The Great Leap (until May 19, BMO Theatre Centre, 162 W. 1st Ave.)—Set in 1989, Lauren Yee’s play “follows Chinese basketball coach Wen Chang (Jovanni Sy), a quiet Party supporter, and Manford (Milton Lam), a kid with hustle from San Francisco’s Chinatown who makes up for his short stature with tenacious baller skill. As the story jumps back and forth in time, tensions rise right up to the final buzzer and history collides at the leap for a 3-point shot. More than just a play about basketball, The Great Leap is a cultural exploration of family, sacrifice, and cultural and political difference.” (Tickets from $29 at artsclub.com and 604.687.1644)

Jovanni Sy, Agnes Tong, Toby Berner, and Milton Lim star in the Arts Club’s The Great Leap. Photo by Pink Monkey Studios.


The Sea (May 2-9, Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St.)—Slamming Door Collective (A Doll’s House, Flare Path) presents Edward Bond’s acclaimed 1973 satire about eccentrics in a storm-tossed English seaside village in 1907. (Tickets: $18 to $27, Pay What You Will and Senior Pricing Available, at theatrewire.com)

Nassim (May 7-19 at Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St.)—Award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (the globally acclaimed White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which has been translated into over 25 different languages, and performed by names including Stephen Fry, Ken Loach, and Whoopi Goldberg) takes the audience and performer on a journey, as he introduces us to his language, Farsi. A different performer takes part each night; some of the local talent includes performer/playwright Carmen Aguirre (May 7), playwright Marcus Youssef (May 10), actor Dawn Petten (May 14), and more. (Tickets from $24 at 604-251-1363 and tickets.thecultch.com)

Enter Laughing (May 8-19, Studio 16, 1551 W. 7th Ave.)—Adapted from Carl Reiner’s novel, Enter Laughing is set in mid-1930s New York. There, David Kolowitz is on track to fulfill all of his parent’s hopes and dreams by becoming a druggist. David, however, wants to be an actor. ($25/22 seniors at theatreintheraw.ca)

The Fitting Room (May 14-18 at Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Dr.)—The lives of five people collide in one department store fitting room as a grief-stricken small town mourns the death of a 13-year-old in this 2018 Victoria Fringe Festival award winner (Overall Favourite and Bravest Show). “Deeply moving…funny and brave. Not to be missed,” says Governor General’s Award-Winning playwright Joan MacLeod. (Tickets: $15-20 at showpass.com)

Cast of Victoria Fringe Festival award winner The Fitting Room.

Matilda the Musical (May 16-July 14, Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage)—Based on the Roald Dahl story, this is musical for the whole family. (Tickets from $39 at artsclub.com)

The cast of Matilda the Musical, Royal MTC, Winnipeg. Photo by Dylan Hewlett

2019 Arts Umbrella Expressions Festival (May 17-25 at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island)—Showcasing Vancouver youth, the annual festival includes a selection of theatre and musical theatre classics, including Peter Pan, James and the Giant Peach, Animal Farm, and Into the Woods. (Tickets: from $12 at brownpapertickets.com)

The Cake (May 17-June 8, Pacific Theatre)—American playwright Beka Brunstetter’s torn-from-the-headlines play about Della, a baker whose beliefs are thrown into question when she’s asked to bake a cake for her best’friend’s daughter. Della is overjoyed until she learns there will be not one bride but two.

Hello: a secret historical exclusion! (May 22-June 1, Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E Cordova St.)—Susanna Uchatius’ play about American playwright Arthur Miller’s son, Daniel. Diagnosed with Down syndrome, Daniel was abandoned by his family to grow up in an isolated institution. The family never publicly acknowledged Daniel’s existence. HELLO tells this story through Daniel’s eyes. (Tickets: $30 regular/25 students & seniors Tues & Wed, $33 regular28 students & seniors Thurs-Sun at 604.689.0926 and firehallartscentre.ca)

The cast of Hello. Igor Santizo photo.

Chicken Girl (May 24-June 7, The Annex, 823 Seymour St)—This one sounds like it’s about a lot of things at once. From the press release: “Chicken Girl embarks on a surreal adventure to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her Uncle Chan. A homesick intergalactic rock star struggles to reconcile with their estranged family. An anxiety-ridden submariner recruits an anthropomorphic cat to settle an old score. Intertwining multilingual dialogue, flamboyant rock numbers, and idiosyncratic marine trivia, three magical worlds collide in front of our eyes as we contemplate the ideas of home, cultural identity, and the point of our existence. Chicken Girl is a vibrant reflection on the meaning of existence and an incantation to raise hope in times of colourlessness.” Written and directed by Derek Chan of local company rice & beans theatre.  (Tickets: $20-30 at theatrewire.com)

The cast of Chicken Girl.

bare (May 29 – June 8 at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 49 Ave. W.)—Run by and for youth, Vancouver’s Eternal Theatre Collective’s previous productions include Seven Minutes In Heaven and 13. Its latest show is a production of bare, an Off-Broadway hit described in the press release as “a pop opera that focuses on coming out and growing up, told from the perspective of Catholic school students as they navigate the complexities of their own sexuality, identity, and future. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the story follows young lovers Jason and Peter as they struggle to be true to themselves, and to each other, in an environment where acceptance is not guaranteed.” (Tickets: $17-25 at eternaltheatre.com)

The cast of bare. Sasha Aleshchenko photo.

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