The original Calendar Girls


Eye Heart Productions
Ashes By Bill Marchant

Dates and Venue 24 – 28 March 2009 @ 8pm | Firehall Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Sex, lies and liquor. Three brothers, three generations, set in a family cottage somewhere in Ontario. The scene opens with three brothers who meet at the cottage to scatter the ashes of their father. They recall memories as they drink away heavily -- memories of sexual perversions, infidelity, lies. As one drink leads to another, the maze of secrets that tie a family together through the generations begin to unravel in this drama.

This premiere production directed by Craig Bishop is something out of the ordinary. You have to be in a certain mood to watch this play. As a critic, I don't have the privilege to schmooze with actors, writers and directors. We have to be critical and objective despite what an audience feels about a play.

First, the script. The play deals with too many themes: incest, homosexuality, infidelity, pornography. Watching the play was like viewing a soap opera on TV. The only difference was that a season or even more, maybe three seasons of the series were compressed in a two-hour script. This is too much to handle. The dialogues were too staccatic. Perhaps that's how brothers talk -- in exchanges of two or three words always ending with "Go fish". That seemed to be the main theme of the show. The audience was left guessing all the time at what the truth to all the hidden secrets was, and slowly, like a soap opera, we get the picture. The ending? Again, go fish.

Second, the direction. Like films these days, sex has to be graphic. And the director likes to be graphic about sex. So, those who like triple X adult movies, well, come on down for a real live sex show. From the technical point of view, I felt uncomfortable lisening to opera arias that lasted longer than usual in the beginning of each act, and I think that discomfort should not be there. We're here to watch a play and not to listen to arias.

Finally, the actors. Wasn't Patrick Currie (Grayson) drunk in the last act after he does his burning? Why was he speaking so fast as though he wanted to get out of the stage as soon as possible? If he were drunk, I'd expect him to slow down on his lines, perhaps drawl, as he recounts his confession as an asonist and murderer. Stephen Park (Walker) played his part well as an obnoxious homosexual, using the f-word for every two or three words he spoke. Maybe it's in the script, but that's a reflection of speech these days among the young, where the f-word is like saying goddamit in the ol' days.

I can't go on being negative about this play despite the fact that it was warmly received by an opening night audience composed of students and friends of the playwright who teaches at the Vancouver Film School. As I pointed out, as a critic, I have to be objective, although most of the time, critics are subjective and have to express what they truly feel about a show. It's one of those shows where you don't empathize with any characters because they're either obnoxious or "bad guys", and normally, we like to see shows with good guys doing some nice things.


© 2009 Ed Farolan