By Michael Lewis MacLennan adapted from the works of Douglas Coupland

Director Katrina Dunn

Dates 1-25 Nov 2006 Venues Theatre at UBC & VECC

Reviewer Jane Penistan


This world premiere opened to an enthusiastic full house. The script is an adaptation of Coupland’s short story, Life After God, and his photographic book, City of Glass. Michael Lewis MacLennan is the well-known Canadian playwright. The development of the script was a collaboration between Theatre at UBC and Touchstone Theatre. There was input from students and actors.

The play is a series of short scenes and monologues, beautifully presented and linked by the use of projections, intricate lighting, imaginative music and sound. Here is the story of six high school friends after their graduation. A 15 year reunion is planned and their lives, hopes and fears, achievements and disillusionments are revealed in the almost two hour run of the production. The cast comprises professional actors, some of whom are UBC graduates, and members of the current senior acting class.

Opening in a rain storm, against a back drop of tall conifers, Scout (Bob Frazer) is found emerging from his tent, wondering what life has become for him, that he is alone, cold and wet and hopeless. The scene fades to years earlier when the six teenagers were growing up in Vancouver, emerging from youthfulness into adulthood, when the joys of companionship and the pleasures of “skinny dipping” were still innocent and adventurous. Life was carefree and the world was a new and exciting place, yet to be explored, once they had emerged from the den of their childhood through the gates of graduation.

But life in the fast lane of the late 20th century was not easy for a generation raised without the stability of a certainty of belief. Scout, around whom the play revolves, meets his erstwhile high school mates at various stages of their lives and persuades them all to attend the reunion. It is at these meetings that the stories of their disparate lives emerge.

Stacey (Laara Sadiq) is now a hardbitten disillusioned trainer at a fashionable health club. She has become self sufficient and ruthless. Julie (Kerry Sandomirsky), happily married, lives in North Vancouver. Still
enchanted by the view from her small house, she is dismayed by the violence in her children’s games, and is unable to see a way to bring up her sons to be less belligerent and more thoughtful.
Scout also meets Dana (Evan Frayne) in a supermarket parking lot. Scout last saw him at university, when he witnessed Dana’s renunciation of pornography, hard drinking and drugs. Now Dana has a wife and two children, as unruly as Julie’s, and is trying to convert all his friends to Christianity.

Todd (Michael Scholar, Jr.), who went tree planting with Scout the year they left high school, is still a seasonal tree planter, with his own individual attitude to living and life. He is the most content of the men in the cast. Kristy (Olivia Rameau) works in a Vancouver office where Scout is also employed. She is a career girl, who yearns for marriage, but finds the power of being an executive something she cannot at present relinquish.

On the night of the reunion, five of the friends meet, but Scout does not appear. As the scene fades to the rain soaked forest and tent of the opening scene, Scout is still wrapped in his blanket asking himself what went wrong.

Katrina Dunn has directed this unusual and deeply introspective play with an unerring hand. The author’s mordant humour in the dialogue is well contrasted with the dream sequences, and the poetic language of much of the script is delivered sensitively. The transitions from scene to scene are made seamless with the incredibly sophisticated lighting and Robert Gardiner’s awe-inspiring backdrop projections -- one of the rightest stars of this introspective and very thought-provoking presentation.

The production will move to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre after the run at the Telus.

© 2006 Jane Penistan