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Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in Scenes from a Marriage.JOJO WHILDEN/HBO

In the face of heavy headlines, it’s important to take a break. To that end, here are some cultural diversions, from thrilling in-person performances to engrossing TV, recommended by The Globe’s Western Arts Correspondent, Marsha Lederman.

Scenes from a Marriage: Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain play married couple Jonathan and Mira, and let me tell you, the chemistry is real. The misery and the ecstasy of the twists and turns that the limited series – and a marriage – can take from episode to episode make for some A+ distraction from the world. Some critics hated director Hagai Levi’s opening credits – which show the actors as themselves heading to set, preparing to shoot. I loved the concept. And the material is so good, so exquisitely acted, that I forgot about that backstage hustle almost immediately as the scenes got going. Amazing.

Alegria is coming back to Vancouver and the shows begin March 25.M-A Lemire/Cirque du Soleil

Alegria: Nothing says cheer up like the circus – even if it’s a Cirque du Soleil circus, which is a whole other animal (minus any animals, thank goodness). Alegria is coming back to Vancouver, where kids bored stiff after two weeks of spring break can take their exhausted parents (see: two weeks of spring break) for a night of high-flying thrills, flaming batons and accordion music with a Quebecois edge. Shows begin Friday.

Revisor is a theatre/dance hybrid, and is returning to Vancouver, March 30 to April 2.Michael Slobodian/DanceHouse

Revisor: I would watch anything Crystal Pite made, and I would eagerly watch it again. Pite is from B.C. and lives in Vancouver, but she is an international choreographic sensation. Revisor, which reunited Pite with her Betroffenheit co-creator Jonathon Young, was recently nominated for Britain’s prestigious Olivier Award for best new dance production. (Pite and Young won the Olivier for Betroffenheit in 2017.) Revisor is a theatre/dance hybrid, mind-blowing when I saw it in the Before Times. It’s now returning to Vancouver, where Pite lives, until April 2.

Clean/Espejos is in English and Spanish – and currently at Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, until April 2.David Markwei/The Cultch

Clean/Espejos: I missed this new play by Christine Quintana during its too-short run at the Cultch in Vancouver, but the buzz has been terrific. So even though I much prefer the live experience, I will watch it online when it becomes available on-demand, April 5 to 10. Two women from different worlds – a hotel worker (Alexandra Lainfiesta) and a Canadian wedding guest (Genevieve Fleming) – meet at a Mexican resort. Directed by Chelsea Haberlin and Daniela Atiencia, Clean/Espejos is in English and Spanish – and currently at Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, until April 2.


Young Mungo: One of the delights of my job is receiving “advanced reader copies” of books I’m dying to read. Young Mungo, which comes out April 5, is Douglas Stuart’s follow-up to his Booker Prize-winning debut, Shuggie Bain, and it is just as unputdownable. Set in an ugly time – fractious, depressed 1992 Glasgow – this is a love story that I will never, ever forget.

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