Broken by Tina Teeninga

Dates and Venue 26-28 October 2006 @ Pacific Theatre at 20.00

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Broken, two original one act plays about shattered lives and the search for redemption, showcased Pacific Theatre's Apprentice program for emerging artists. BROKEN THINGS is a one-hour drama about four characters:two nuns, a priest, and a soldier. The play is set in a convent in France during the Second World War. Through the course of the play, Soeur Marie (Elizabeth Pennington) finds out that one of the nuns, Soeur Helene (Lori Kokatailo) was violated by a wounded Canadian soldier who was also being cared for in the convent. Her faith in humanity and in God is questioned: why would God allow this to happen?

These are questions of faith we ask everyday. Why would God allow evil in this world, and there have been countless theological debates on issues of faith and predestination and so forth. But let's go now to the production part. I promised Tina, right before the show started, that I would offer my humble constructive criticism to the script and to the production.

First, the script. I think the script appeared a bit heavy; there were a few light moments with Pere Sergey (Bill Amos). The topic is already loaded with painful and tragic tones and so perhaps, from a directorial point of view, the presentation should try to balance off this heaviness by easing a bit on the shouting and intensity that I felt was a bit overdone. From the script point of view, two things: I feel that there should be more editing done. Lines like "It's not a good idea" from Marie when Helene tries to confront the soldier, Frank Thompson (Dan Amos) is too weak. Something stronger like "No, don't" would probably be more powerful.

I also found a lot of redundancy. The word "forgiveness" is constantly repeated and loses its value. So basically, it's getting rid of cliches and sentences that mean nothing and tightening up the dialogues so that every word would have a powerful dramatic impact. I would also suggest adding a scene where Helene confronts Frank. Why prevent them from meeting? A scene like this would add more colour and meaning to the play.

NORMAL (a 20-minute solo performance which was the opener) is about a 15-year old girl who wants to maintain normalcy in her life by having sex with her disinterested boyfriend. The topic is interesting from the moral point of view as we live in an amoral society where there is so much peer pressure among teenagers on sex whereby if you don't have sex by the time you're 15, it's abnormal. In this case, Lizzy (Kirsty Provan) because she is refused sex by her boyfriend, goes crazy. Although I found her solo performance well done and well directed by Teeninga, personally, this topic doesn't interest me. I'm certain it interests some groups, but in my case, I ask myself, why should someone go crazy just because she can't have sex when she's a teenager?

© 2006 Ed Farolan