Rumble Productions

recovery by Greg MacArthur

Dates 23 November - 9 December 2006 Venue Performance Works, Granville Island

Reviewer Erin Jane

recovery is dark and cold … very cold. And not just thematically – it was literally freezing cold in the dark theatre. Unsure as to whether the lack of warmth was for effect or whether it was simply because the heat had been turned off, I bundled up in my coat and gloves and took in the show.

Greg MacArthur is a young playwright who has written a fairly dark play about a society that has become addicted to a mystery drug, and those who have enough money have checked themselves into a deluxe spa in the Antarctica to “recover.” An interesting premise, especially since the audience is really not given any specifics as to what kind of drug is controlling the people, nor are we given any specifics as to what the serious negative impacts are. All we know is that “they” (the government, media, and, of course, those running the recovery centres) have had a large involvement with the spread of fear. Things spiral horribly fast into a surprisingly dark dystopia, reminiscent of what work camps must have been like during the Second World War.

This interesting premise coupled with a terrific set design and strategic lighting (bare-bones modernistic structures with a couple of towels and benches and spotlighting on various areas) makes recovery a great play, though this performance did seem extremely dialogue-heavy at times, and its lack of action kept me struggling to focus on the steady stream of words. I welcomed intermission for the relief it provided my mind (and for the warmth provided by the theatre’s corridor and bathroom).

Though one or two performances were uneven at times, all characters had a certain likeability and I felt not only a connection to them but I also cared for their well-being (although a premonition told me things would not work out well for them). A small cast of only five main characters, recovery had a few very strong performances, especially that of Kathleen Duborg who plays a stringent recovery centre supervisor and Charlie Gallant, the young Dutchman whose spirit and energy allows him to fight against the politics of the centre.

All in all, although there were a few compromising elements, I enjoyed the show and was left thoughtful albeit with a rather unpleasant chill.

© 2006 Erin Jane

Note: Rumble Productions report that building temperature at Performance Works is back to normal.