Caroline Russell-King offers up a review of the local production of Bryden MacDonald’s Governor General’s Award-shortlisted play Whale Riding Weather.
Show: Whale Riding Weather.
Playwright/composer: Written by Bryden MacDonald.
Theatre: Theatre Outré and Sage Theatre at the West Village Theatre.
Length: One act (95 mins.).
Genre(s): Depending on your point of view, it’s either a tragedy (my vote) or a drama.
Premise: A loquacious, older man rescues a younger man who had been attacked in a hate crime. Living for free in a mutually co-dependence relationship, the rescued man repays him by tolerating his narcissistic and animal cruelty ways for five years, until meeting a third man who upsets the status quo.
Why this play? Why now?: The AD program notes: “In the queer community at least, ageism, despite woke culture is alive and well.”
Curiosities: I wondered if ageism was the central theme of the piece given that there seem to be so many other, more important issues on the table. I was confused by the sound effects.
Notable moment: Seductions are fun to watch.
Notable writing: If Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe had a baby with Blanche Dubois and he grew up in Nova Scotia, and more verbosity and mental instability were added, we’d have the beginnings of the anti-hero penned by Bryden MacDonald. The script was nominated for a GG 26 years ago.
Notable performance: Lyle (Marek Czuma) squirms and sashays through all the sherry-soaked soliloquies. Auto (Jay Whitehead) plays the damaged lover as a caretaker and co-dependent. Allister MacDonald depicts Jude, the third sociopath, who seems marginally more loveable, as he indulges the old man his stories before absconding with his prized possession.
Notable design: “Dipping her toes into original sound design,” Lyndsay Labrecque underscores the play with a cats soundtrack (as in feline) which works intermittently.
Notable direction: Gail Hanrahan helps the actors navigate all the emotional peaks and valleys. She deftly injects more tension into the script by placing one character partially seen behind a beaded curtain, adding suspense where there mightn’t have been any.
One reason to see this show: The intimacy choro is well done and a refreshing change from all the chaste love scenes seen recently in Calgary.
(Photo courtesy Jaime Vedres.)
Whale Riding Weather runs at the West Village Theatre until Feb. 22. For tickets and showtimes please click go to https://www.theatreoutre.ca/.
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 here at www.carolinerussellking.com.