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A Russian play in Mexico City

Though 2b theatre company has been touring their double-bill production of Hannah Moscovitch’s The Russian Play and Mexico City in Nova Scotia and British Columbia since the summer of 2008, the show hadn’t made it to audiences in 2b’s home, Halifax. That changed on Nov. 29 when it had its Halifax premiere at the Neptune Studio.

Though 2b theatre company has been touring their double-bill production of Hannah Moscovitch’s The Russian Play and Mexico City in Nova Scotia and British Columbia since the summer of 2008, the show hasn’t made it to audiences in 2b’s home, Halifax.
That changed on Nov. 29 when it had its Halifax premiere at the Neptune Studio.
“Typically we premiere shows here (in Halifax),” said 2b artistic co-director Christian Barry by e-mail from Vancouver, where he is directing a run of the show. “For a variety of reasons, this double-bill premiered away, and now after years of success (it) is returning home.”
Andria Wilson, 2b’s producer, said that this fall was the ideal time for 2b to finally bring the show to Halifax.
“We didn’t have anything in the creation cycle that was ready to premiere this fall, but we wanted to have something at home … This seemed to be a good fit,” she explained. “From a producing standpoint, we have to spend the money rehearsing it to put it on tour (in British Columbia) so we may as well tag a home run on the end of it.”
Wilson said the show has been very well received, a sentiment playwright Hannah Moscovitch echoed in a phone call from Toronto. Having seen the 2008 premiere of the production in Chester, she said the show had “incredible grace and beauty.”
“There was a stronger thematic tie between those two plays than some of the other plays of mine that I’ve seen billed together,” she said of the choice in double billing.
For Barry, bringing the two plays together into one production was an obvious choice.
“Mexico City is a comedy about love, and The Russian Play is a tragedy about love,” he said. “As a double bill, these two sharply written gems shed a great deal of light on the subject of love and relationships.”
Barry said that the cast – Colombe Demers, Tessa Cameron, Anthony Black and Scott Stephenson – is what excites him most about the show.
“It’s thrilling every night to watch these skilled actors craft a new relationship with the audience,” he said.
Moscovitch said she shares Barry’s admiration for the cast, adding that she finds Demers’s work as The Russian Play’s Sonya “genius.” She also called attention to the specificity of Barry’s lighting and sound design.
“I’m always trying to convince them to take (the show) everywhere because I really like the production and so I’d like that (production) to be the one that travels,” Moscovitch said.
Considering its humble beginnings, Moscovitch said, seeing The Russian Play in particular rise to prominence is exciting.
“I went from having a tiny little play in a backspace that I had written as homework for an assignment in a writing class,” she said.
“I’m happy to have people like my work and I’m happy to have people feel like the stories I’m telling are communicating.”
The show played at the Neptune Studio from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4. Barry said that the studio was a “great space” for the production.
“The studio has the vibe of a black box even though it’s a thrust stage in there,” Wilson added.
“It’s really spectacular. It’s almost like a blank slate. We can put the show in there and you can get completely sucked into that world.”
They held a student night on Nov. 30. Tickets for students cost $15 and included admission to the performance, priority seating, a pre-show cocktail hour and a post-show question and answer period with the creative team including Barry.
“You want people to feel special,” said Wilson. “We know what it’s like these days if we’re asking people to spend $30 (the approximate regular price of a ticket with tax) on a theatre ticket. We want them to feel like they’ve made a good investment and they’re getting good value.”
After Halifax, Wilson said there are high hopes for the future of the play.
“We keep the shows alive,” she said. “We keep touring them as long as we can, as long as there’s interest.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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