Arts Club Theatre
Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad
Dates 22 March – 21 April 2007 Venue Granville Island Stage Reviewer Erin Jane
Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad taught me a lesson not to jump to conclusions. I didn't learn this lesson the first or even second time I was taken by surprise with this Arts Club Theatre production. It wasn't until the third shocker when I really realized that this play is not as it initially seemed.
Going in to Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, I had expectations of a sufficiently entertaining but cookie-cutter romantic comedy (not in small part due to the play’s poster artwork of a man and woman cookie cutter shapes), filled with allusions and word plays on the game of hockey. In this regard, I was not disappointed, but rather surprised to find that there were even more layers to the play than I had originally guessed. Dark layers, in fact.
Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad is rich with all sorts of themes, including gender stereotypes and single parenting, and complicated relationships. These themes are brought forth admirably by the two-person cast of Jackson Davies and Cailin Stadnyk. The show opens ordinarily enough with a stage set-up made up of bleachers and a few feet of mock-ice rink, a set that remains unchanged throughout. Between small talk with each other and encouraging their children on the ice, Davies and Stadnyk do a good job of creating an imaginary ice rink and beyond the “fourth wall”, which is of course is aided by the intermittent but familiar sounds of skates, cheers, whistles and buzzers.
At first these two characters seem outrageously stereotypical and unrealistic. Teddy’s obviously harmless and repeated advances towards Donna are wholly rejected and you wonder why he persists. A few cliché moments caused a groan or two from the audience, as Teddy asks Donna why she will not let him into her life - “Why do you want to be alone like this?” he asks. The end of Act I leaves Teddy with a quick, unexpected kiss on the lips from Donna, and also leaves me wondering how they can possibly top this nearly unbearable cuteness in the next act.
In Act II, the dating begins. We the audience are privy to the squabbles about parenting styles and the complexities that come when merging two families together. Yet an unexpected twist revealed a much darker, more disturbing layer to the relationship.
The play maintains an intensity in the second act that was largely absent in the first, and this intensity is carried pretty much to the end. Davies and Stadnyk work well together, as you’re not quite sure what to expect from either of them. All in all, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad is more than meets the eye. It’s sure to please just about anyone from hockey fans to parents to anyone looking for about 90 minutes of amusement. Just be sure not to judge this play by its first act.
© 2007 Erin Jane