Tai Amy Grauman
Photo: Benjamin Laird



The Firehall Arts Centre

This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker

When & Where April 13 – 28, evenings at 7:30pm, Sat & Sun at 3pm & Wed at 1pm | Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova Street

Director Donna Spencer and Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen Set Design Kimira Reddy Costume Design Sydney Cavanagh Lighting Designer Rebekah Johnson Sound Design MJ Coomber

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Keith Barker captures the essence of loss in his play This Is How We Got Here. The play is cleverly structured to enhance the feelings that come with grief. For instance, there are four actors in this play, Lucille (Tasha Faye Evan) the mother, Paul (Gordon Patrick White) the father, Liset (Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen) the aunt and Lucille’s sister and Jim (Darcey Johnson) the uncle and Paul’s friend. For the most part two characters are on stage at one time or one lone character simulating the isolation one feels in grief. This technique also emphasizes the interactions between the different relationships in this play, how they each deal with grief themselves and how they aid others in the journey through the grieving process.

The set also reflects the isolation of grief as it is sparse. Grief strips ones world down to only the feeling of grief. Kimira Reddy reflects this in the set, the sparseness of which also acts to heighten the impact of the dialogue. Clever use of hanging props represent a forest of birch trees and give the actors areas in which to come and go from the stage.
The lines delivered in This Is How We Got Here areheartfelt, washing over the audience as the waves of grief wash over the bereaved. Evan, White, Ravensbergen and Johnson make the emotions of withdrawal, separation, aloneness and the ache of loss real. If one has never experienced the awful pain that death brings to those who are left behind, this play imparts that feeling dramatically. It is a powerful play that carries a powerful punch. Not unlike the punch those who are left behind feel in their gut. The sickening feeling of loss.

Weaving through the play is the fox. The fox is in the story that Lucille and Paul read to their son, Craig, when he was young. When a fox visits Lucille in the garden while she is alone with thoughts of her son she wants to believe it is Craig come to comfort her. It is a poignant aspect of the play. The comfort in belief that the spirit of our loved one is with us in another form.

For all the pain of loss in This Is How We Got Here, there is lots of humour written into the script. The final scene is masterful. A brilliant finale.

© 2024 Nancie Ottem