Review: An Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard – Hardline Productions 1, Audience 0

There certainly was a whole lot of raw energy and obvious talent in An Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard, the inaugural production from one of Vancouver’s newest theatre companies, Hardline Productions.  Problem is, with the choice of two obscure Sam Shepard one acts and an equally obscure monologue, it felt more like walking into an advance drama class where the students were flexing their acting muscles, than a real production meant for an audience.

It is not difficult to see why these three pieces,  4-H Club, Cowboys #2 and Killer’s Head, are rarely produced.  While they give their actors, directors and production teams a chance to explore, experiment and hone their craft, they offer little for the audience other than perhaps to nod and hopefully say something like “yep, these kids sure can act”.

I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing if, well, it is your thing.  Watching these four talented young men (Raes Calvert, Devin Estes, Mack Gordon and Sean Hewlett) on stage was a pure pleasure; the ferocity, the layering, the willingness to immerse and give themselves over to Director Sean Oliver.  But ultimately the Shepard pieces are largely inaccessible to the audience.   It can be a fine line between art and entertainment, but for my money I want both.

An Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard
Sean Hewlett, Devin Estes, Mack Gordon & Raes Calvert in An Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard.  Photo by Kevin Cardinal.

For their first production Hardline Productions has made An Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard “pay-what-you-can” for the entire run.  So if you’re up for a quick 75 minutes of what a master class in acting might look like, you certainly can’t beat the price.

I have no doubt that Hardline Productions is destined for great things and for that reason I’m going to start keeping score.  Right now though it is Hardline Productions 1, Audience 0.

3 out of 5 StarsAn Electrifying Evening of Sam Shepard
DreamLife Studios
4 – 13 June 2010

Tickets are pay-what-you-can ($12 suggested) and are available at the door or by emailing

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