Theatre review: Tape – make a reservation

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There was something in the air of room 102 at the Waldorf Hotel yesterday afternoon, and it wasn’t the sweet smell of the pot.  It was the smell of an uneasy alliance between audience and actor as 18 of us were crammed inside one of the Waldorf’s un-remodelled rooms for Tape, a site-specific piece of theatre, that for its entire hour had me thinking the VPD were about to bust down the door at any moment.

Alley Theatre's Tape on stage at Vancouver's Waldorf Hotel through May 30, 2011Vince (Daniel Arnold) is both jealous and angry over something that happened back in high school between his friend Jon (Matthew Kowalchuck) and his first love Amy (Marisa Smith).  Watching in real-time, we become voyeurs eavesdropping on the threesome as truths and lies are laid before us on the stained sheets and threadbare carpet.  But we quickly realize that sometimes things are not always as they appear; all of a sudden black and white has a whole lot of grey.

Arnold’s Vince is simultaneously restrained and yet so powerful that it fit both the intimate setting and his character perfectly.  Kowalchuck brings such realism to Jon and his relationship with Vince that at one point I actually felt a sexual tension between the two.  Add the final element, Smith’s Amy who turns out to have more balls than the two men combined, and there is enough tension in the room to cut with a knife.

In such cramped quarters, Tape is as much about reaction as it is action.  Director Amiel Gladstone makes sure that is never forgotten.

With a limited number of seats per show you’ll really want to make a reservation before this show ends.  Ask for the special deal in room 102.

4 1/2 of 5 StarsTape

By Stephen Belber.  Directed by Amiel Gladstone.  An Alley Theatre production.  On stage at the Waldorf Hotel through May 1, 2011.

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