Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Inside the Seed

Corporate Caper Masterfully Directed
The stories need to be told.
by David C. Jones
I was reared on films like The China Syndrome and Silkwood, stories inspired by true events about corporate crimes and cover-ups. I have Marched Against Monsanto and signed petitions. If you haven’t seen films like The Corporation or Food Inc. you should.

Therefore I am primed for a show like Inside The Seed by Jason Patrick Rothery and produced by Up In The Air Theatre. This is the first time the company - which has produced and presented many other artists in their various festivals – is being presented themselves by The Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

It’s a large cast for a sprawling story told in a small space. Something we don’t see that often outside of acting schools or amateur companies. Here we have some very amazing actors, great production values and a great director.
Foster Bryant (Patrick Sabongui) has taken over Dynatech and is trying to steer it away from its dark past and into a great provider of food via its chief commodity Golden Seed. He wants to do a large philanthropic gesture by donating millions of seeds all over Africa. Three countries have refused his offer of aid because they have declared the seeds poisonous.

As he tries to figure out a scheme to change their mind, his office becomes a revolving door of problems and people, many about real issues regarding GMO’s. There is the farmer whose farm has been polluted, the military man who wants an Agent Orange-like product, an activist from India, and so on. As well he has to contend with his late in life pregnant wife.

The production is stylish and passionately told. Director Richard Wolfe choreographs powerful stage pictures. Oedipus Rex was the inspiration for the play so the entire cast is on stage “Greek chorus-like” and react in unison at high points in the story.

The entire production looks and sounds great: set, lighting and video by Jergus Oprsal, evocative sound by Jordan Llloyd Watkins and blended but personalized costumes by Florence Barrett.

What a uniformly good cast we get as well. Tamara McCarthy, Dave Motte, Adele Noronha, Dallas Sauer, Allison James and Carl Kennedy make memorable and real the various people they play. Mia K. Ingimundson, as the upper class wife and Tetsuro Shigematsu as the fired former employee are particularly vivid in their portrayals.

As our main protagonist Mr. Sabongui navigates all the twists and turns of a conspiracy caper but sometimes he has to appear naïve and other times shrewd. That is the one drawback of an otherwise riveting show. Sometimes the script seems too calculated or convenient.

Inside the Seed has important subject matter wrapped up in a sexy stylish production. Its corporate machinations are compelling and a little frightening when you realize most of the plot points are based on real-life examples.

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