The Surrogate a comedy about long hidden family secrets

Lunchbox Theatre’s latest play The Surrogate is about your family.

Well not literally of course. Nor is it literally about playwright Brieanna Blizzard’s family. But the social mechanics of the family dinner that plays out onstage and the peccadillos of the characters themselves might remind you of your brother aunt cousin grandmother — or even yourself.

The story is about a woman named Samantha who can’t face yet another family dinner with everyone not talking about those essential topics that hide just below the surface.

“Everybody in the family has something that they’re hiding and Sam is sort of the secret-keeper” explains Blizzard.

So instead of blasting open everyone’s secrets herself Samantha sends a surrogate in her place.

“The surrogate is essentially a total stranger who carries none of our baggage so he has nothing to lose by forcing the truth” says Blizzard.

The family feeling that perhaps they are supposed to know who this stranger is politely lets him into their gathering — which he then proceeds to disrupt.

Blizzard says the play is a comedy that plays on family dynamics and the different roles that each family member often finds themselves playing. You’ll get to meet parents siblings and a straight-talking grandmother whose loony outbursts are grounded in truth. You might recognize your own behaviours in the adult brother and sister who revert to acting like teenagers once they’re back in their family home. Or maybe you’re the secret-keeper like Samantha.

“It is a very quirky mix of characters” says Blizzard “and I think that’s where the comedy comes from because then this stranger comes in and he gets to shake it all up.”

Despite the laughs The Surrogate isn’t just a string of gags. By working in territory that’s recognizable to so many Blizzard believes that the revelations in the story will hit a deeper note.

“It’s a comedy but at the heart of it it’s all about the people their love their truth their vulnerability” she says.

And however much we may complain about our own families — and however much we may long for our own surrogate to tackle those touchy family situations — Blizzard argues that we’re actually pretty fortunate to be able to call those people family in the first place.

“Whether it’s the people that we’ve met and chosen to have as part of our family or whether it’s the family we were born into we’re really lucky to have those people in our lives” she says.

At the end of the 50-minute play she hopes that audiences “walk away appreciating their families and their role in their family a little bit more based on the realization that we’re not alone — all of us have crazy families.”

And even if you don’t have a surrogate on hand to bring tough issues to the fore the situation that plays out onstage could spur you to face some of the tacit conflicts in your own family. “Hopefully the story can inspire you to be a little bit more bold to be a little bit more brave and shake yourself out of that role that you think you need to occupy within your family” says Blizzard.

The Surrogate is a world première developed through Lunchbox Theatre’s Stage One play development program.