The Concierge of Vancouver by Shaul Ezer
Reflections by guest blogger Mary Littlejohn
It’s about time someone wrote a play about this.
I saw a preview performance of The Concierge of Vancouver this week. The performers were passionate and energetic. It’s a special treat to see a show this topical and relevant to our city, starring actors who live and work in Vancouver. Addressing the issue of investment properties (in particular the mostly-empty luxury condominiums in Coal Harbour), playwright Shaul Ezer has disguised a revolutionary manifesto as a farcical, light-hearted comedy. I laughed, but I’m still fired up.
The play is satisfying for those of us who feel hopeless and helpless in these uncertain times. It’s wish-fulfillment, providing a fantasy that doesn’t exactly offer a realistic solution, but wouldn’t it be nice if it were actually happening? (I don’t want to give too much away, though it does become somewhat obvious if you’re paying attention in the first half).
I found myself walking through Coal Harbour not long after seeing the show, staring up in wonder at all these empty luxury condominiums, with breathtaking views that are going unseen. What is the solution? It’s a difficult question, and no once can seem to agree on an answer. Maybe that’s because many don’t see a problem at all, and why should they? What they are doing makes sense, fiscally. But if they are not living here, merely using their “homes” as an investment, how can they see the effect this trend is having on our city? On the morale of the folks who have lived here all their lives, now being priced out, pushed into the ever-expanding suburbs, where the prices are rising, too?
The Concierge of Vancouver wants to incite and inspire. You can see it in the performances, in the determination of the actors and hear it in the playwright’s words. The show is scrappy but polished, like its hero, Al. Kudos to Matchmaker Productions for encouraging dialogue about these issues - literally, in fact, with their upcoming talkbacks. The show is sponsored by, among others, real estate agents. I’d like to hear their thoughts on the show and the issues it addresses.It’s hard not to feel impotent about these matters (as an average Vancouverite who will probably be renting for the rest of her life) and what it means for my retirement and for my child’s future. But results depend on who shows up to take part in the discussion. Art can produce change, but not if it exists within a vacuum.
The Concierge of Vancouver is presented by Matchmaker Productions and is on stage at Studio 1398 until October 16. Tickets and information through matchmakerproductions.com