The 24th Annual Vancouver New Play Festival
JAVA LIFE: COFFEE AND
By Teresa David & Susan Jarema
JAVALIFE by Aaron Bushkowsky
Director: Peter Hinton
Arts Club Revue Theatre
Tickets: 687-1644, 685-6228 or Ticketmaster at 280-3311
Coffee and friendship; the two go hand in hand. Java life is about people
grinding through their lives' journey, struggling with the ups and downs,
commiserating together until brewed into a steamy connection.
Java Life is set in a typical Vancouver coffee bar where its characters
are seeking solutions to their melancholy existence by questioning the meaning
The underlying theme of this play centers around the desire for people to
connect in a large and often cold big city. The feeling at the onset is that
the characters are unable to overcome their depression. The paradox is that
these characters do indeed connect eventually and it is the coffee shop that
brings them together. The audience could sense the need of these characters
to find someone to listen to their problems. The play picks up on Vancouver's
obsession with the culture of coffee, current trends in the city and many
of the issues of modern life.
The audience is given a chance to view the cross section of several moments
throughout a few days in the life of these "Java coffee" people. Black humour
keeps the audience entertained as serious issues are discussed.
The success of this play can be attributed to the strong development of the
five characters early in the play: the conflict between two sisters Melanie
(Laara Sadiq) and Lee-Ann (Veena Sood) who both seek emotional peace... Lee-Ann
seeks solace in Sam (Norman Armour), a "Kramer-like" character. Armours
opening night performance was, by the way, noteworthy. The other characters,
Chris (Steve Griffith) and Jon (Allan Zinyk), work at a long-term care facility
where the two sisters bring their father.
The diversity of the characters is well achieved, symbolically, by the varieties
of coffee now so popular in coffee bars. There is that feeling in this play
that people of different backgrounds and personalities are all going through
challenge of life. These differences allow them to connect to each other.
As the play ends and the actors leave the stage, it feels as if the lives
of these five unique characters would continue on.
The serious issue of sexual abuse seemed, though, a little too strong of
an issue to be left unresolved. Another shortcoming was the overuse of smoking
in the play which doesn't currently represent the typical coffee shop atmosphere
in Vancouver where laws now have restricted smoking in restaurants. The use
of the cigarette as a dramatic tool to symbolize despair and connection is
overdone. The sharing of cigarettes almost comes close to overtaking the
general "java-coffee" theme of the