Helen Lawrence

Philip HarrisTheatreLeave a Comment

My wife and I enjoy going to the theatre. When we were living in England we’d regularly spend weekends in London attending interesting looking shows picked out of Time Out magazine. We saw everything from a production of Dracula above a pub to Japanese comedians to big shows like Cats. In fact, our honeymoon was spent in London and included a couple of days at a Horror Film festival and a showing of War Horse.

Now that we live in Vancouver we have a subscription to the local Arts Club Theatre. It’s relatively inexpensive (especially compared to London ticket prices) and it encourages us to go to see shows we wouldn’t normally think of attending. Sometimes we get a dud but most of them are good, some are outstanding.

Yesterday, we went to see Helen Lawrence at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Created by visual artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s InquestBoardwalk Empire) Helen Lawrence is a hard-boiled, film noir-ish, tale set in Vancouver in 1948 that weaves several threads around the arrival of a mysterious femme-fatale. What makes the play unique is the way it’s presented.

The actors perform on a blue screen stage behind an opaque screen. A series of cameras operated by people not currently in the scene capture the performance which is then merged with background images and projected onto the screen to create a moody black and white film.

It’s hard to explain but this trailer gives you a bit of a sense of how it works.

It took me a couple of minutes to get used to watching the “film” and some of the transitions were a bit jarring (there seemed to be some technical difficulties) but overall it was an impressive achievement and made for a pretty unique experience.

It’s a solid play, not the best we’ve seen but still enjoyable and an interesting production that’s worth seeing if you get the chance.

[Helen Lawrence by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 6th April 2014]

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