Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) Like Wolves

(photo credit: GCTC/Andrew Alexander)
A Howling Good Time
by Jim Murchison 

Walking into the GCTC you see a spacious apartment, with a second level balcony tucked upstage left. Jessica Poirier-Chang has designed a set that has an almost antiseptic look that instantly puts the question in your head; home or institution? That is a central theme to the play that is set around the lives and potential deaths of an elderly couple named Vera and Sam. Do you make sure your remaining years are comfortable and look for something safe or do you chase your bucket list and bravely go forward doing all the things you meant to do but never could because of family, job, procrastination, fear or financial circumstance?

Sam and Vera have been married for 50 years and are now returning to the scene of the crime; the very spot where they spent their honeymoon. It’s not as romantic as it sounds. The rural setting has changed and where once there was a sleepy little inn, now there is a retirement high rise. When Sam is struck with a mild heart attack, the family races to his side. 

the family dynamic explodes and all the resentment and anger crackle out like a floral bombshell at a fireworks display

Sam is played with restrained pragmatism by Peter Froelich while his wife Vera played by Nancy Beatty is filled with wanderlust for all the unexploited adventure that escaped her while she was being the responsible wife and mother. Matthew Edison is Tom, the salesman for the condo unit and plays him with a direct and affable manner that makes him likeable, but as with any pitchman you have to be aware that there may be an angle being played.

When sibling rivals Nina and Mia gather around mom and dad to lend their support the family dynamic explodes and all the resentment and anger crackle out like a floral bombshell at a fireworks display. Alix Sideris as Nina and Kim Wun Perehinec as Mia play the bickering sisters so well, that they actually looked more alike as the play progressed. In addition to the mom always liked you best refrain of Mia, there is the added shock to the family that Nina has brought a Chechnyan doctor with her to the family crisis.
John Koensgen plays Yuri with a matter of fact attitude that belies his wisdom and his hilariously dry observations on life come from a point of reference of real suffering and experience marinated in vodka.
The belief that director Peter Pasyk has placed in the writer and cast allows for a well balanced story to unfold naturally. The casts’ timing and nuance serve a wonderfully crafted story and give it a buoyancy that lets it soar as it should. This is a wonderful piece of theatre that should be produced often and for some time to come. The comic spin and optimistic outlook that it is never too late, make a story that deeply delves into the complicated family dynamic and questions of life and death a tremendously fun evening where 90 minutes seems like half an hour.

There are world premieres and there are world premieres. Playwright Rosa Laborde has written something that is funny, witty and insightful that tells a story that expresses the human condition with honesty, humour and passion. Like Wolves may have more tinkering in future productions that I expect will come. I hope not too much. The thing about artists is that they often continue to look for ways to improve and fine tune. This play is already a witty, insightful look into the human condition that is hilarious at times and sometimes tragic but always honest and entertaining.     

runtime: approximately 90 minutes with no intermission
Like Wolves runs until June 23 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Readers

    In Posting my review I did some final edits and in my haste removed the reference to the playwright herself, Rosa Laborde. This will be corrected. It is nice when a writer has something laudable to say about someone that they reference who that person they're praising is. My apologies to the readers and MS Laborde for my ommission. Jim Murchison


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