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HALO

Dates: 3 December 2004 -2 January 2005, 8pm Venue: Pacific Theatre

Reviewer: Ed Farolan


 

 

 

 

 

 


Rebecca deBoer
Rebecca deBoer as Casey Quinn

Halo by Canadian playwright Josh MacDonald is a funny and touching play set in Cape Breton. Scene designer Kevin McAllister even designed the stage to look like Nova Scotia. It's a story about miracles, and in the play relates a tale of a miracle that took place in Baddeck, Cape Breton. Inspired by an actual event, the story goes that the image of Christ appeared on the wall of a Tim Horton's café.

But this play has a twist. Is it really a miracle? Can we believe in the irrational? Director Morris Ertman wrestles with these questions, and challenges the audience to think about issues dealing with miracles and faith. In the end, we're left with a dilemma that George Bernard Shaw tries to solve in his play Saint Joan: "An event which creates faith does not deceive; therefore, it is not a fraud but a miracle."

The heroine of the play, Rebecca de Boer, is the atheist unable to come to terms with faith and miracles. She is rejected by the deeply religious community around her. The whole idea of miracles is alien to her, and if there are miracles, it's because of business. Miracles generate business -- postcards, souvenirs, and the fast-selling halos that look like Tim Horton's donuts attached to baseball caps. But as the play closes, she, unlike the Sartrean characters in No Exit, gives in to a glint of hope.


 

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The other important charcter is the Catholic priest Father JJ, played by Anthony F. Ingram, new to the community. He has long hair, is progressive in his views, and is constantly tested by his old-fashioned, traditional parishoners who keep on telling him to "get a haircut." He also questions the miracle at Tim Horton's. He doesn't believe it to be one, and yet echoes the Shavian insight that this phenomenon generates a sense of faith in the community.

Anthony F. Ingram as Father JJ and Rebecca deBoer as Casey Quinn

Other metaphysical insights such as the mysterious ways of God in the proverbial"Man proposes but God disposes" are expressed in this play. A subplot is the story of a dad, Donald McMullen (James Wilson) , who struggles to let go of his comatose daughter, praying for a miraculous healing. The miracle, however, doesn't happen.

All in all, the production was well-presented, and the full-house audience enjoyed this Christmas offering. I found it refreshing to see a play that is Canadian, as there is such a scarcity of good Canadian plays. One hopes that more playwrights will write on Canadian themes and professional theatres will do more plays by Canadians.

2004 Ed Farolan

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