Play captures people in daily lives

A Canadian theatrical comedy success, ‘the little bus that could’ has been wowing audiences all over the world since its debut in 1992.

The Sid Williams Theatre Society presents Axis Theatre’s The Number 14, which embarks on a 20th anniversary tour with its first stop Sept. 22 in Courtenay.

Set on Vancouver’s No. 14 bus as it travels through the social strata of a large city, the performance captures the absurdity, diversity, and eccentricities people witness and participate in as they go about their daily lives.

A Canadian theatrical comedy success, ‘the little bus that could’ has been wowing audiences all over the world since its debut in 1992. The production has adapted over time to reflect the changes in society, as well as bus transit, in the past 20 years.

A letter by original directors Wayne Specht and Roy Surrette describes The Number 14’s beginnings, “The inspiration [came from] commedia dell’arte, Monty Python, silent movies, Mr. Bean, vaudeville and ritual.

“After weeks of playing, exploring and creating characters together, we decided to put them all on a moving bus on a route that covers the whole city. Public transit is one of the few places where diverse elements of the population cross paths.

“Like commedia dell’arte in 16th century Italy, we use masks to create larger-than-life characters who are instantly recognizable as the people we see every day — the wealthy and the destitute, the aggressive and the apathetic, strangers and lovers, the kind and the cruel.

“Overall, this is a piece that celebrates the theatrical. Sitting in a seat becomes a dance, silence becomes music. Six actors transform into 60 characters, and like those characters, the audience is transported — taken for a ride on The Number 14.”

An award-winning production that has earned four Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, The Number 14 has also received nominations for a Dora Mavor Moore (Toronto) award as well as one in the Unique Theatre Experience category from the prestigious New York Drama Desk after a successful run on Broadway.

The New York Daily News says “Delightful… dazzling, brilliant… astounding! This bus ride is so exhilarating that you don’t really care where you get off” and high praise also comes from the New York Times, “Winningly, wild. A slap-happy ride. The performers go about their work with zest and talent.”

Vancouver’s Axis Theatre Company’s 35 years of thought-provoking, award-winning creativity have earned them a rightful place on the world stage of modern dramatization. Recognized as one of British Columbia’s cultural institutions, this extraordinary company has captured the hearts and minds of audiences the world over.

See Axis Theatre’s The Number 14 on Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Sid Williams Theatre ticket centre, by phone 250-338-2430 or online at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com.

— Sid Williams Theatre