A Coveted Wife of East Vancouver mixes fact and fiction
Coming to the doors of the room, I was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers eager to hand out tickets for the sold-out show, A coveted East Vancouver bride. The stage was decorated with curtains and painted backdrops accompanied by upbeat music – including hits ranging from classical Fat mellow musical “Orinoco Flow ”by Enya to set the mood.
The Granville Island picnic lodge is surrounded by wetlands with rushes and willows. Aside from the glare of the setting sun, the outdoor location of the room was unbeatable. Using real East Vancouver cafes, Café Deux Soleils and Joe’s Coffee, as the backdrop to the show anchored the performance to the region.
Telling the story of two best friends, played by Megan Phillips (Sam) and Hayley Sullivan (Kali), this performance was a fun take on their experiences in the dating world over the past five years, leaving behind the message that despite everything, their friendship lasted both in real life and on stage.
The musical numbers were original and creative, leaving the audience laughing. The 12 Days of Christmas spin-off regarding their dating app pairings was a fan favorite.
I enjoyed the dynamic nature of Mostafa Shaker as he played several different characters with simple outfit changes. First there was Mansplain, a talkative macho who wouldn’t let his date say a word. Then, River, the spiritual soul who gave Sam a “flower of strength” by parting. Next, Adonis Blade, the pimp. And finally, the murderer. All of them were distinctly different while still keeping the underlying theme of being a bad date!
Sliding to the left was an inherent movement of the play. Watching the two girls navigate Sam’s love life was entertaining as they explored different apps and knowledge – a smart take on modern dating. Her quest for love has not been resolved, although her friendship with Kali has only grown stronger as she helps her friend deal with alcoholism alongside her romantic dating trip. I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two actors: allowing each other enough space for individual monologues, then coming together for joint musical numbers and a conversation.
One scene that was really well done was the kidnapping incident, where Kali kidnapped Sam as an intervention to date the murderer. Although Sam acknowledged her date as a murderer whom she studied in high school, she felt she was already too involved to refuse. Kali’s interpretation of driving a car was perfect as Sam struggled inside with a blindfold.
Overall it was a good play. The cast stayed in character despite the wind blowing the backdrop and an awkward moment of exposed false eyelashes. The music was engaging, well sung and upbeat, with original music and lyrics emphasizing an authentic feel of the room. I was a little disappointed to learn that Megan was not the real songwriter, as was touted throughout the performance. Marn Norwich was behind the lyrics, and Itamar Erez arranged and performed the music. Both did a great job! And the audience was a respectful crowd, happy to make the crew laugh.
The production left a few questions for the audience, like “what are the characters doing now?” I guess one could answer with “put on a play at the Fringe Festival”, although one can’t help but wonder if Sam has found love yet. Even at the end of the performance, there were elements of the show that made the story come true.