A Grand Guignol Double Bill! (Sept. 2015)
Review from The Coast:
Taboo theatre remains committed to reproducing the experience of attending Grand Guignol in early Twentieth Century France. As in previous iterations of Taboo’s horror anthology series, Double Bill utilizes a framing device whereby a host or hostess (here played by Andrea Dymond with palpable relish) welcomes us to the theatre and prepares us for the frights to come.
The first play, “A Terrible Misstep,” is less a horror story than a witty and cheerfully morbid comedy of manners. Assisted by the actors’ precise timing and delivery, the black humour of the dialogue remains funny right up to and including the play’s literal last moment.
The second, and slightly less successful, play, “How’d You Get Those Eyes?” is a more traditional Grand Guignol offering, containing bloody knife fights and graphic enucleations (look it up if you dare). The staging is particularly effective, allowing us to feel repulsion at what we only half-glimpse.
In an age when “horror” usually means watching CGI gore in a darkened movie theatre, there’s something wonderfully enticing and visceral about Taboo Theatre’s revival of Grand Guignol. I, for one, would be in favour of even longer anthologies. It would be a hell of a night out.
– Martin Wallace
(Editor’s Note – I had to look up “enucleations”. Ick! – KW)
The Madonna Painter by Michel Marc Bouchard (June 2013)
Review from The Coast:
Festival of Fear: An Evening of Grand Guignol III (Nov. 2012)
From the HIT Book:
Phaedra’s Love by Sarah Kane (June 2012)
Banned Aid Fundraiser (April 2012)
Festival of Fear: Another Evening of Grand Guignol (Oct. 2011)
A Box, A Bag and A Bottle (May 2011)
An Evening of Grand Guignol (Oct. 2010)
Adult Entertainment (Oct. 2009)
The Whores by Charles Crosby (April 2007)
From Curtain Rising Magazine (Vol. 1, Issue 8) – June 19, 2007:
Story from CBC Radio:
Friday, May 18: Reaction to The Whores: A Halifax sex trade worker gives her thoughts a new play on stage this weekend.
A new play in Halifax is shedding some light on the hidden life of women who work in the sex trade. The play is called The Whores. It tells the story of five sex trade workers who work in Halifax, and it deals with stereotypes and stigma; abuse and murder. The Whores is based on real-life stories that were collected by writer and director Charles Crosby when he was a journalism student in 1994. Our arts producer Phlis McGregor went to see the play. And so did someone we’ll call Joanne. She’s a sex trade worker in Halifax who has been working in the industry for forty years – she started when she was thirteen.
Phlis and Joanne sat down together to talk about the play. The play is on stage twice tonight and twice again tomorrow. It’s at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. All proceeds from the play go Stepping Stone – an organization that advocates for the safety, health and well being of sex trade workers.
Excerpts from a review of The Whores:
|Controversial Play Packs ‘Em In
|Ron Foley Macdonald
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|Charles Crosby is a fascinating figure on Halifax’s busy arts scene. A determined do-it-yourself writer and dramatist, he’s produced his own plays and had a couple of books published while holding down a demanding full time public relations day job for Dalhousie University.Crosby’s latest theatrical project, a slice-of-life documentary drama entitled The Whores, has just finished up a sold-out run at the Bus Stop theatre on Gottingen Street in Halifax’s North End. Unsurprisingly, the writer’s polished PR skills created a wave of media interest for the play with major outlets including CBC Radio, the Daily News and the Halifax Chronicle Herald all giving the production major coverage. The Coast, Halifax’s free alternative weekly, even helped sponsor the show.Now’s there’s even talk of another run and/or a tour of The Whores. It all speaks to vital and wide-ranging interest in local theatre in Nova Scotia’s capital city that bodes well for the sector in general.[…]…as a playwright, Charles Crosby is a great publicist. The Whores is not without its attractions. Seeing five forceful female actors acting out the world’s oldest profession on the streets and in the private rooms of Halifax is something that is practically guaranteed to draw a crowd.[…]…in popular culture, prostitution has been directly portrayed in many documentaries and several dramatic features over the last few decades. 1986’s Working Girls, by the feminist filmmaker Lizzie Borden, took almost the exact same tack as Crosby in presenting a matter-of-fact portrayal of a day in the life of a New York brothel, for example. Discussed in the banal terms of everyday work, prostitution can seem strangely remote and distant.Theatrically, you can reach back more than one hundred years ago to George Bernard Shaw’s Victorian-era play Mr. Warren’s Profession to see a frank discussion of prostitution. First put on privately in 1902, the public had to wait until 1925 to see it performed on a commercial stage. Hollywood, on the other hand, has almost always glamorized the world’s oldest profession, most recently with the wildly popular Julia Roberts/Richard Gere vehicle Pretty Woman.So if Crosby is not offering anything particularly new in The Whores, there remains the question just what is it he is putting on stage. Well, there’s five characters drawn from interviews he did for a university project at Mount Saint Vincent in the mid-1990s.[…]The dialogue weaves back and forth rapidly between each character as they are separated in differing corners of the theatrical space…Structurally, the material is divided up into journalistically-decided sections such as the mechanics of the trade, how long each character has been involved, the use or non-use of controlled substances, and what they really think about men. The hour-long play peters out at about the 45-minute mark. It then rushes to a conclusion when an act of violence forces the women to re-consider whether they should continue in such an obviously dangerous occupation.[…]Veronica Reynolds, as Mary the high-end escort, and Lynn Reicker, as Carnie the veteran streetwalker, both managed to build more definitive and convincing characterizations.[…]
Still, seeing a locally-written play stir up so much interest leaves something of a positive impression for the local drama scene.
For more information on the playwright, check out http://www.charlescrosby.ca.
© Ron Foley Macdonald 2007
|Author’s BiographyRon Foley Macdonald is a freelance writer and film programmer who has worked The National Film Board, The CBC, and Atlantic Film Festival. He is currently writing theatre reviews for The Daily News.
A Midlife Marriage by Charles Crosby (Atlantic Fringe Festival 2006)