Theatre review: Concierge of Vancouver is a fresh look at city's housing crisis

Oct 10 2016, 7:02 pm

From headline news stories to cocktail party conversations, Vancouver’s housing crisis seems to be a daily topic of conversation.

Matchmaker Production’s current play, The Concierge of Vancouver, written by Sahul Ezer, looks into this topic from a pretty cool angle. While the writing of the play isn’t amazing, the story itself is fascinating and the talented cast deliver top notch performances.

The plays focuses on a concierge at a Coal Harbour condo building, who essentially runs his own Airbnb business by renting out condos that would otherwise sit empty. But instead of personally profiting from his earnings, he gives back to the community through donating to charitable causes.

The play is a fresh and intriguing take on a widely discussed topic. However, the writing seems to fall apart near the end and the story gets confusing. There’s also a twist at the end that seems really random and finishes off the play on a poor note.

Despite the shortfalls in the writing, the strong cast make do with the material. The ensemble of four actors are very believable in their roles, including Art Kitching in the title role, displaying a combination of wit and humour that carries the play well. Sharon Crandall as Samantha, a VP at a bank who gets tied into the story, has wonderful chemistry with PR rep Frank Zotter, who works for the concierge’s charity organization.

Crandall and Zotter play off each other wonderfully and are a treat to watch. Elizabeth Kirkland’s portrayal of Agnes, the nosey reporter determined to get to the bottom of things, is suitably annoying. Kirkland is great despite how the script makes it seem like her character has bipolar disorder at the end.

Director Ian Farthing has done an excellent job of utilizing Carolyn Rapanos’ set design to tell the story without having to make the audience endure any cumbersome set changes. The movement and staging of the actors seem natural and seamless, which is a credit to Farthing’s direction.

Christopher David Gauthier’s costume design helps to enhance the characterization of the actors, from Fred’s fashionable suits complete with fun socks, to Samantha’s power businesswoman attire. The only downside to the creative team’s efforts is Julie Casselman’s sound design. Her choice of music in between scenes makes it seem like we’re watching a tacky educational video in Grade 10 Science class.

While the script leaves much to be desired, The Concierge of Vancouver is still a welcome addition to the local theatre scene, from its important commentary on the housing crisis to the fine actors who save the show.

See also

The Concierge of Vancouver

When: October 7 to 16
Where: Studio 1398 (Granville Island)