I was fortunate enough to attend Lampedusa on opening night. I had actually never seen a performance at The Cultch before and was very impressed. The Cultch offers tickets at affordable prices, making access to the arts available to everyone.  Their core belief is that finances should not dictate accessibility to arts and culture. I could see myself attending future plays there as the setting is so intimate and inviting. As an audience member, I felt truly immersed in the play.  I personally chose to wear a mask as it is an indoor space, but I felt very comfortable.


Lampedusa is presented by Pi Theatre. It is written by Anders Lustgarten and directed by Richard Wolfe. Melissa Oei plays Denise, a door-to-door collections agent living in the UK. Denise gives us a very raw and relatable look into the financial struggles that people face on a daily basis. She also shows us how people may feel threatened by immigration, as immigration directly affects the job market. I loved Denise’s character very much. She is someone who I would be friends with. She tells it as it is, and doesn’t worry about offending others. She is someone you would want to have a drink with. I enjoyed how Denise was able to maintain a sense of humour, despite the darkness and despair that surrounded her. Her character provided some comedic relief to the drama of the story. It was very well balanced to watch, as the dark humour and serious underlying messages worked together. We also meet Stefano, played by Robert Garry Haacke, a fisherman who no longer has a job as the fish have depleted in the Mediterranean. Stefano’s new role requires him to pull migrants out of the Mediterranean.  His character is very strong and proud. He is the strong and silent type, who would give you the shirt off his back. Both actors did an excellent job portraying their characters with passion and vigor. I loved that although the play only had 2 characters acting the entire time, they never left the audience wanting for anything. They were both so intensely entertaining to watch. I could not look away from the stage, even for a second. 


I was actually a little emotional at certain points of the play. As the child of immigrant parents, it really hit home.  Starting and sustaining a life in another country is not an easy feat. It takes tenacity, strength, and vision. Even after one has established themselves, life’s circumstances can change at any moment. We never know what may happen in the future.  I think that many people can empathize with the concept of a lack of finances, at some point. For myself, during the pandemic, the uncertainty was frightening and overwhelming. I never thought that I would ever experience a global pandemic in my lifetime, but it was certainly a learning experience. I feel that it is so relatable to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status. We are all going through the human existence together and navigating the ins and outs of surviving in an ever-changing world. We are all connected. We are all human.   

If you are looking for a night filled with entertainment, emotion, and empathy, go check out Lampedusa. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, you will feel something. You will be reminded of the fact that we are all one. 

Performances Times:
May 7, 10-14, 17-21 at 8:00pm
May 8, 14, 15, 21 at 4:00pm
Ticket Prices:
From $25 at www.thecultch.com
The Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab (1895 Venables Street in Vancouver)