Hana Joi
Photo: Doug Williams

United Players of Vancouver
A Hundred Words for Snow
by Tatty Hennessey

When & Where 11 September – 4 October 2020, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm | Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery, Vancouver

Director Tamara McCarthy Llighting Design Graham Ockley Set Design Graham Ockley and Tamara McCarthy Sound Design by Nico Dicecco Decor & Props Linda Begg Technical Director Leighton Taylor Producer Fran Burnside Stage Manager Mandeep Sunnard

Reviewer John Jane

There is a well-worn myth that the Inuit language has a hundred different words for snow. British playwright has borrowed this myth for the title of her one-woman play about a teenage girl who takes he father on his final journey. Rory is certain that her father would appreciate the sojourn, even though it’s just his ashes in a cremation urn that actually makes the trip.

Naturally, we never hear any of the hundred words for snow, not even the forty or so that actually exist in all the Inuit dialects. But Rory, the play’s protagonist provides a captivating explanation of the five locations of the North Pole. Rory is well qualified to do this, since she is the daughter of a geography teacher who had obviously listened intently to his teaching. The guy was so enamoured with the North that he named his daughter in honour of the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights). He never fulfilled his dream of making the trek to the North Pole in his own life time, so our heroine was confident they could make it together after his death.

What starts off as a celebratory undertaking, becomes a coming of age experience and a life lesson against a complex and changing backdrop of climate change. Hana Joi as Rory addresses the audience directly in a natural British accent with a storytelling style that is both charming and engaging. She allows the audience to share the mixed up emotions of her transformation into womanhood.

Graham Ockley and Tamara McCarthy’s set is pretty minimum. Essentially, it’s a twelve by twelve white room with a single wall on a black box stage. The set also serves as the ice shelf, with cracks deliberately displayed. The production could have spent a little more of the budget on clothing – realistically, Rory would have frozen to death in the arctic wilderness

Tatty Hennessy's dialogue is hardly dense, but is appropriate for the character that has to deliver it, and Ms. Joi delivers it with infectious warmth.

This review is written from watching an online streaming of the performance and not in a live theatre setting.

© 2020 John Jane