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Madness on the chairlift

Chairlift Review returns for the fifth year



"We will be giving birth on the chairlift."

Oh Max, silly Max. Pique columnist G.D. Maxwell is of course serious about this. For the fifth year, he is bringing back the ever-popular Chairlift Review, a comedic celebration and slice of Whistler culture, to cap off the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

"It will be live, it will be funny and if you're not there your friends that were will say you missed a great one," Maxwell says.

There are seven plays this year all written by local writers, including contributions by Maxwell and Michel Beaudry, touching on subjects from menopause to selling timeshares. Whistler councillor Chris Quinlan will also be appearing on stage.

"There's also a really cool Feet Banks script where - well, we don't know if he's a priest or a dildo salesmen or both, but anyway you just have to come find out for yourself," Maxwell says

With that in mind, this is an all-ages show. Nobody's going to hear any language that they haven't heard on the playground, and as Maxwell points out, dildo humour will only offend the parents, not the children.

"For the most part, the humour's probably somewhat more sophisticated than the average 13-year-old but, you know, the average 13-year-old that understands The Simpsons would feel right at home," Maxwell says.

He says there are minor changes to last year's format, as there is every year. This year, producers have included brief scenes between each play to thread the evening together, with recurring characters giving "graphic and somewhat violent lessons on chairlift etiquette" that are contributions from...well, basically everybody involved in production.

"The basic idea might have been mine," Maxwell says, "but you talk to people about what people do on chairlifts that really piss you off and everybody has their couple of things."

The Chairlift Review is about playing out on stage the fantasies and fears people have while riding up the chairlift. These are exaggerated realities, ones that aren't exactly implausible but, then again, it's doubtful anyone has witnessed a birth on a chairlift.

"It's fun. It's a gas. The whole concept of the Chairlift Review is so Whistler-centric. Obviously it could take place in any ski town but it's just perfect because it's theatre for a town that has no theatre and a town with actors that can't really be actors because they're too busy being everything else that they are," Maxwell says.

But in the same way that writers have to write, he says, actors have to act and so once every year they pull off this evening of ski hill comedy. Maxwell has thought about extending the Review to once a month or once a week, and though he thinks it could be successful he wants to wait and see how the Cultural Tourism Development Strategy unfolds.

The problem is a lack of an available and affordable venue. Millennium Place was not designed to be a live performance theatre and is just a bit more expensive than anyone involved with the Review "wants to risk our bank accounts on," says Maxwell.

"It's the kind of thing that will take some weeks to root, to become one of those things that the concierge's and the hotels are saying, 'You have to go see this.' We can't make it on local population alone."

But on this Sunday night the celebration of Whistler and all of the quirks that keep it interesting will be on display for everyone to enjoy.