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LYONESSE THEATRE

Gonzo

by Gordon Pascoe

Dates and Venue 1- 12 November 2006 at 20.00, Matinees 2, 4-5, 9, 11-12 at 14.00 Norman Rothstein Theatre (41st & Oak)

Reviewer Ed Farolan

 


 

Playwright Gordon Pascoe pays tribute to Gonzo, a Japanese guard whose compassion and humanity enabled him as a young boy to survive more than 1,000 days of captivity in a Japanese prison camp in Shanghai called Ash Camp between 1942 and 1945. I spoke to Gordon during intermission and he said that he remembered his mother telling him what was happening in Ash Camp during those three years of internment, and that was how he got all the details to come up with his play which he says is semi-fiction, as he had to add things that may not have actually happened.

When he was hospitalized for heart failure in Oxford, England in 2003, Gordon told me that he had to write this play before he passed away. And in 2005, the premiere of this play was produced in Nanaimo where he lives now with his family.

The play was quite moving. In one of the scenes, Gonzo shows a photo of his family to Gordon's mother, and she does the same. At the play's conclusion, we don't know what really happened to Gonzo, but it ends with him saying goodbye to all the women and children in the camp, as the Japanese had lost the war and he was on his way back to Nagasaki where he left behind his wife and two daughters.

We know that Nagasaki was one of the targets of the atomic bombs that were dropped killing thousands in that town, together with Hiroshima. We can only sadly assume that Gonzo and his family didn't survive the bombing.

The timing of this production is also just right as Veteran's Day will be commemorated on November 11th. Pascoe, who also directs the play, uses a screen in the background which begins and ends with the words "Lest we forget", a reminder of the horrors of men's cruelty to men in war.

2006 Ed Farolan