Step Right Up!
By Trevor Found & Elaine Avila Directed by Kate Weiss
Set Design: Robert Gardiner Costumes: Kate King
Vancouver East Cultural Centre
June 8-12, 1999 at 8 p.m.
By Ed Farolan
I've always admired able-bodied people who go out of their way to help the disabled. Congratulations to co-artistic directors and co-writers Trevor Found and Elaine Avila who founded Terrific Theatre in 1985, and who, in the past year and a half, are bringing it now from the original focus of "therapeutic theatre" to a new direction towards professional theatre.
Step Right Up! is a comic and candid look at the history of performers with disabilities. The play starts off with Ernest, an actor with cerebral palsy, about to commit suicide when Mathew Buckinger, an 18th century magician born without hands, feet, or thighs, visits him. He takes Ernest on a journey to Ancient Egypt, Rome, Renaissance France, and finally 18th century England.
This one and a half hour play is a new twist to the typical disabled person who is challenged and comes out victorious after fighting against so many odds, just like Terry Fox. It's more like a comedic satire, a wake up call, as it were, to anyone showing that the disabled can do what able bodied persons can do, like going to any bar, drinking like anyone, and making love. The heroes in this play, Gord Molhoj as Ernest and Paul Beckett as Mathew, prove it. They are not just disabled actors going through a therapeutic session. They are, indeed, professional actors! Which just shows that being disabled doesn't mean you're useless and can't do anything about your life. And that's what this comedy is all about. In fact, seeing these two actors perform almost made me believe that we, able-bodied people, are more disabled than them!
The play was excellently directed and produced with the likes of "able-bodied" professionals in Vancouver's theatre scene: actors Carmen Aguirre of Teatro Latino, and Chris McGregor; director Kate Weiss; set designer Robert Gardiner; and costumer Kate King.