A postcard review of Winners and Losers

Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre and Arts Commons Presents have teamed up to present Chromatic Theatre’s all-female version of the Governor General Award-nominated piece Winners and Losers. Caroline Russell-King gives us the low-down on the show in her latest postcard review.

Show: Winners and Losers.

Playwrights: Marcus Youssef and James Long, adapted by Valerie Planche, Makambe K. Simamba and Jenna Rodgers.

Production Company/Theatre space: Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre and Arts Commons Presents’ a Chromatic Theatre Production in the Engineered Air Theatre at Arts Commons.

Length: One act (75 mins.).

Genre/s: Semi-improvised theatre piece.

Premise: Two actors play a game of “winners and losers” in which they skim over myriad issues and politics, framed by their personal histories, taking opposing points of view.

Why this play? Why now?: Polite Canadians culturally don’t usually roll up their sleeves and wander into the fray, preferring instead to dodge political landmines.

Curiosities: I wondered if the other artists in the audience felt nostalgic about the role that Auburn Saloon used to play in the community, where heated, emotional “discussions” were had by artistic folks (with large personalities), over beers, after their own shows. I also wondered how many issues the actors actually saw eye to eye on but had to improvise for sake of the theatrical convention. And lastly, I wondered how much I was supposed to take my own views in to account and whether or not this was the whole point.

Notable lines: “I am loud and obnoxious!”

Notable writing: I don’t know what the original source material was; suffice to say it felt like a weekend collective creation between Keith Johnstone and Augusto Boal.

Notable performances: Both Valerie and Makambe share the stage almost equally, vacillating between improvisation and some obviously previously worked out bits of conflict with minimal audience participation.

Notable design/Production: The generic set, lights and costumes, which seemed to have a portable Fringe-like impermanence, were all designed by Bianca Guimarães de Manuel.

Notable direction: Jenna Rodgers is the recipient of a 2018 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award.

One reason to see this show: Since so many disagreements happen these days, in sound bites over social media, it’s refreshing to see real human interaction going back and forth on issues of importance.

Winners and losers runs at the Engineered Air Theatre in Arts Commons until Sunday, Nov. 25. For tickets please go to

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work at