Theatre Review: The Graduate – The Play

This past week Alasdair and I were lucky enough to take in the live performance (play) of The Graduate, brought to Vancouver and presented by the Arts Club Theatre Company, and being performed at the Granville Island Stage. The show is on now, playing until May 14, so there is still plenty of time for you to take in this incredible performance. Now, if you are a naïve, yet eager live performance aficionado like me, you too will have heard of The Graduate and know it stemmed from the original 1967, Academy Award-nominated film with the same name. Most likely, however (and unlike myself) you have probably seen the movie, garnering an interest to see the play adaptation.

I decided it was best to go in with no history or reference to sway my opinion or leave me pondering how it paled in comparison to the original, or any other thought of the sort. I will admit out of the gate that I have definitely grown fond of the performances the Arts Club Theatre Company has been bringing to our great city over the past few months, and The Graduate is right up there as one of the best to date.

First, the plot. If you’re unfamiliar with the storyline of The Graduate (as I was heading in), then let me give you a short recap. The male protagonist, Benjamin Braddock, played by Kayvon Khoshkam, finds himself recently graduated from university/college and struggling to define the next stage of his life and which path he wants to take, much to the chagrin of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Braddock. The storyline eventually takes him down a path of life changing events, including having an affair with his parent’s best friend’s wife, Mrs. Robinson and then subsequently falling madly in love with their daughter. Needless to say his life choices led to extremely complications and endless soul searching, desperately seeking a true and final happiness.

Kayvon Khoshkam in the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of The Graduate. Photo by David Cooper.

Without a doubt, the performance of the night goes to Kayvon Khoshkam, who single handedly carried the performance and brought to life an unbelievably erratic, yet completely endearing character. His performance was spectacular, and the subtleties in his acting shone through, capturing the intense awkwardness and sense of distress his character was constantly wrought with throughout the plot. He was brilliant! And not to bad to look at either, which is a benefit as he spends a large part of the play in his underwear. Believe me, it’s worth seeing this show for that one element in itself!

No play would be complete without a scene stealing character/actor. In the cast of The Graduate, I award this honor to Mr. Braddock, played by Lisa Bunting. There was something about this spitfire redhead bombshell that each time she appeared on stage I felt a smile beam across my face and my eyes were instantly drawn to her presence. Bunting’s ability to showcase her characters flaws and idiosyncrasies were on par with her male lead, Khoshkam, as well.

To be fair to the entire ensemble cast, each member was absolutely brilliant. This show was well choreographed, acted superbly, and the sum of the parts equated to an excellent night of theatre.

As I am officially in my ‘summer kick off’ mode due to the incredible weather we have been experience here in Vancouver over the past few days, and I feel it is safe to say that this production is the perfect kick off to another excellent spring/summer season of theatre in the city. A job well done to everyone involved in this production, it was truly fantastic!

A final kudos must be paid to the musical team involved with this production, Ivory Sky, who produced original music for this touring show. The music was the perfect compliment to a beautiful performance, with haunting vocals and stunning accompaniments from the banjo, cello, piano, guitar and percussions. If there had been an album for sale after the show I likely would have made the purchase!

For more information about the show, including the actors, dates and to buy tickets, check out The Arts Club Theatre Company website: http://www.artsclub.com/20102011/plays/graduate.htm