Speedbump Theatre
The Past by Arthur Holden

Dates and Venue February 21 - 25, February 27 - March 3, 2018, at 8pm & February 25 - 2pm | Studio 1398, 1398 Cartwright Street, Vancouver

Director Marko Hohlbein Lighting Design Hannah Lohns Sound Design Bob Oldfield Stage Manager Ashley Sutton

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Some say that our past shapes who we are, and, by extension, who we will be. Others say that it’s not so clear - that time isn’t linear, and life isn’t either. Still others say that past, present and future are one. Arthur Holden’s insightful writing stimulates questions about the effects of time and experience on people’s lives…how habits and behaviours are affected by perceptions of time.

One situation in which time is carefully measured and celebrated is in the lives of recovering drug and alcohol addicts. Holden uses this context to ask serious questions about the nature of guilt, acceptance of it, and forgiveness - by others and by ourselves. Two alcoholics brought together by a social worker at an AA meeting take an unexpected journey into introspection that changes their lives.

Bill Croft as Ray, and Cindy Peterson as Lynn are alternately encouraged to, and discouraged from divulging events in their past lives by the social worker, Rose (Breann Granger) who runs the AA meetings. All give praise-worthy authentic performances as their characters expose surprising strengths and frailties in who they have been, and who they have become. Rose, Lynn and Ray acknowledge their past mistakes with addiction. Having found a stronger, more hopeful path, they rationalize their present decisions with sensible arguments… and see their actions threaten the fragile sense of order which they have constructed for themselves.

Marko Hohlbein’s direction in this world premier presentation is quite brilliant. Having the players share the revelation of their stories keeps an active pace that moves the play forward, and Hohlbein has engineered an extremely believable performance from all these talented actors. Credit goes to Ashley Sutton, also. Her uses of light and sound to establish the few simple setting changes and moments of focus work well.

This is a thought-provoking play that draws the audience into lives that are houses of cards - carefully constructed over time in reaction to events experienced, with beliefs strongly held, and convictions of certainty, but always fragile. The characters examine whether time, with the encounters it brings, can be an important function of change in a person’s life. Does the past really matter in the person of today? Can the person of the past ever really be gone? Was the person of today always present? Holden’s introspective writing, and this strongly performed exploration, make us wonder about the nature and effects of time in shaping who we are.

© 2018 Christian Steckler