Ishan Sandhu with company. Photo Doug Williams.

Evangela Kepinski, Matt Loop. Photo Doug Williams

 

United Players
The Here and This and Now
by Glenn Waldron

WHEN & WHERE June 4 – 27, 2021 Thurs - Sat at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm | Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St. and on-line

Director Lauren Taylor Lighting design Michael Methot Projection design Jacob Wan Set design Linda Begg Sound & video design Peacock Farm Productions Technical direction Leighton Taylor Stage manager Maria Denholme

Helen Evangela Kepinsky Niall Matt Loop Robbie Ishan Sandhu Gemma Jessica Wong Child Kieran Dhadwal

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson


Is happiness a fleeting moment which quickly passes into the humdrum continuum or a state of mind ripe with possibilities? How far will we go to achieve our aim, whether trying to sell a product or saving a beloved child’s life? Glenn Waldron explores these questions in a dark and enigmatic comedy.

In Linda Begg's sparsely furnished room, coldly lit by Michael Methot, Niall (Matt Loop) standing front and centre delivers a moving and convincing speech, barely mentioning the low cost of his age-defying product. Almost the same monologue is delivered by an over-dramatic but entertaining Robbie (Ishan Sandhu), then Gemma (Jessica Wong), in need of re-assurance. Evangela Kepinski’s very funny Helen is clearly hopeless at what we now see is a company ‘away day’ to hone presentations and boost sales. The affecting personal details and the stated assumption that the listener is a good person are merely window dressing for the pitch. It can all be summed up in the slogan “Captivate, Associate, Detonate, Kill”.

Interspersed among the monologues are the team games and conversation. The new hire, Gemma, is enthusiastic about the firm, Robbie is blasť. Where Gemma thrills at the chance to freeze her embryos, Robbie points out that as a pharmaceutical firm, the company will benefit far more than the employees. Nevertheless, she says, it could be the start, in the future, of the two of them, of their child.

6 years later, the world has changed. An anti-bacterial resistant disease is sweeping the planet. Although fatal and without cure, rumours abound that there is a cure available if you know the right people. And so Helen, trying to save her son, turns up at Niall’s plush house and asks for help using a typical sales presentation. Evangela Kepinski is exceptionally funny as she outlines her case and excruciatingly chilling as it becomes clear that she learnt the lesson of the away-day very well.

In a short coda, a happy child (Kieran Dhadwal) in a bright light wraps up the loose ends of Waldron’s dystopian world.

Lauren Taylor's direction absorbed the current health restrictions very smoothly. My only caveat is that a play so darkly comic is better seen in company than alone at home.

© 2021 Elizabeth Paterson