Arts Club Theatre Company’s CIPHER By Ellen Close and Braden Griffiths February 6–March 7, 2020 – Vancouver, B.C.

Step into the shadowy, elusive world of Cipher, a new Canadian mystery coming to the Granville Island Stage next month. Equal parts modern noir and conspiracy thriller, Cipher is a theatrically innovative crime story sure to keep audiences on the edges of their seats.

Penned by Ellen Close and Braden Griffiths—who also star in the show—this play unearths the mystery of the Beacon Hill Body, a fictional, 63-year-old Vancouver Island cold case. The story follows forensic toxicologist Grace Godard (Ellen Close), who thinks her scientific expertise is leading her close to an answer—closer than anyone has come before. But when she meets Aqeel Saleemi (Praneet Akilla), a young man with a personal stake in the mystery, their efforts to crack the case have consequences neither of them imagined.

This co-production with Calgary’s Vertigo Theatre was the winner of the 2018 Alberta Playwriting Competition. It unravels its plot in an inventive way, ping-ponging between a more traditional, text-based approach and contemporary dance and movement sequences.

Of the script, Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran said, “I felt compelled to keep reading. I wanted to discover what the cipher was; I needed to know which characters I could trust. I love that the play harkens back to thrillers of the past, while also having a modern sensibility.” “The play is inspired by true events, but is entirely fictional,” added Close and Griffiths. “Our first inspiration was the Tamám Shud mystery, a real cold case from Australia that shares some of the same mystifying clues as our cold case in Cipher. We were particularly interested in the obsessive drive of the people who are still devoted to solving that case all these decades later.”

Praneet Akilla (Aqeel Saleemi), Delia Brett (The Nurse and Emma), Ellen Close (Dr. Grace Godard), Braden Griffiths (The Agent and Clive), Arash Khakpour (The Beacon Hill Body)

Craig Hall (Director), Ellen Close (Playwright), Braden Griffiths (Playwright), Tara Cheyenne (Choreographer), Narda McCarroll (Set Designer), Stephanie Kong (Costume Designer), Parjad Sharifi (Lighting Designer), Jamie Nesbitt (Video Designer), Torquil Campell (Sound Designer), Jessica Nelson (Assistant Director), Rick Rinder (Stage Manager), Jenny Kim (Assistant Stage Manager)

Mon–Thu at 7:30 PM, Fri and Sat at 8 PM, Wed at 1:30 PM, and Sat at 2 PM; Sun closed

The Arts Club, one of the largest not-for-profit theatre companies in the country, is the principal gathering place for the theatrical arts in British Columbia. Comprising three unique venues across Vancouver, the Arts Club welcomes more than a quarter-million guests annually, tours provincially and nationally, and engages students and artists alike through educational and professional programs.
Above all, the Arts Club is dedicated to the advancement of local artists telling stories from around the globe and, in particular, those of our region. From this, we believe that culture expands, an understanding of differences is nurtured, and art bursts forth. The Arts Club was founded in 1964 and is currently led by Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran and Executive Director Peter Cathie White.

In partnership with Vertigo Theatre, The Arts Club presents the world premiere of Canadian crime thriller Cipher, playing from February 6 to March 7 at the Granville Island Stage
Tickets from $29 at or the Arts Club Box Office at 604.687.1644