Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) People Like Us

Earnest and well meaning but…
One woman show is pretty predictable
by David C. Jones
The setting is a mostly empty house with only a couch and chair. The walls become an army barrack tent halfway up. There are piles of sand along the floorboards in Amanda Larder’s set. On the couch a woman is packing her suitcase preparing to go to the wedding of her daughter.

We learn from Sandi Johnson's script that her husband was a veteran MP from the Gulf War who worked with mildly radioactive weapons. “What happened to Gerry, happened to me.”

The woman – Kate – loved her husband “We told each other everything.” She also explains how dealing with Gerry’s PTSD and his subsequent cancer while raising two kids 'took the wind out of her sails and left a hole in her heart'.

She also gives a belly dance lesson and teaches us about glove etiquette.

She is mad that the government is not helpful towards veterans “We trusted the military” but “it was a minefield”. She becomes the pitbull of Yarmouth (Nova Scotia) and helps other veterans of the Gulf War by getting them coats and helping with paperwork.

She is very noble and nice and that also makes her a little uninteresting. She is just nice. Not sarcastic or sneaky or cheating. Just nice. She is also sad. Her husband is dying. The government won’t help, she tells us a couple of times. It is a tragic story for sure but it is not very engaging.

Sarah Rodgers directs Sarah Louise-Turner but that can’t make this play more than earnest. We know where it is going, there are no surprises, just indignation.

There are two moments where the play delves into uncharted or interesting storytelling – one regarding their uncomfortable sex life aided by frozen peas. Another is about a horror that Gerry witnessed after the truce was signed. A highway was bombed at both ends and the military killed soldiers and civilians all along it. Both passages are brief and we are back talking about Gerry’s condition and the lack of help from the military.

This is simple storytelling, told with sincerity and heart but repetitive, following a predictable path. Not bad but not very involving either.

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