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Green Thumb Theatre

Speed by Jamie Norris

Director Patrick McDonald Scenic design Justus Hayes Costumes Barbara Clayden Lighting Ereca Hassell Video Jamie Nesbitt andRobin Greenwood Sound Joel Etkin Stage Manager Leah Foreman

Dates and Venues 17-20 May 2006 at Granville Island Stage and 24-26 May 2006 at Surrey Arts Centre Reviewer Jane Penistan

Speed logo - Green Thumb Theatre

In time for High School graduations Green Thumb’s Speed is a world premiere of a new play by Jamie Norris. The technically brilliant, fast-moving, up-to-tomorrrow’s date production is performed by three actors in ninety minutes of flashing between venues and time slots, fast cars and a police station, and is fraught with uncertainty and suspense.

The set is a bleak, graffiti adorned police interview room, with a backdrop screen and a scaffolding side scene. Lights illuminate the relevant areas of the stage and create moments of thrills and excitement or calm, intimate interludes. Videos of high-speed road racing, close-up car interior episodes, or a telephone recipient answering a call are displayed on the screen that also shows the police interview recordings as they are performed.

An overture of raucous, double forte contemporary music, opens the show, and accompanies it throughout with suitable variations.

High School Grad Night is a landmark for teenagers and often for parents as well. In this instance, parents are absent. Left on her own, valedictorian Jessica must cope as best she can, and does, until she has a violent row with her boyfriend. After the disaster which follows this altercation, we learn about Jessica’s problems and her acquaintance with Nash, following a chance meeting engineered by him.

Aspirations, a developing friendship and the exhilarating excitement of being illegally in charge of a high-powered expensive car lead to a violent altercation. A fatal accident, followed by the devious, but unethical ways Nash devises for the evasion of accusation for this, forces Jessica to face up to her responsibilities.

As the investigating police officer, Mina, Dawn Petten is confident, logical, and sympathetic, while being patient and unrelentingly determined. There is a nice balance here of officialdom and humanity.

Nikolas Longstaff’s Nash is a callow, self-seeking young man who has grown up with street smarts as his means of survival and independence. For Jessica, at the end of childhood and on the threshold of the adult world, life has many problems. Jennifer Paterson presents this troubled teenager in her turmoil of the loss of a parent, the uncertainty of her future, her longing for affection and stability, her obvious academic ability and her enjoyment in the companionship of her first boyfriend.

But she has the foresight to know that what Nash proposes for their future together in the long run, and his evasion of responsibility in the short term are both untenable. Her breaking down in the hands of the police officer is beautifully timed and masterly, and her final graduation speech one of youthful hope for happiness.

While primarily geared to a teenage audience, there is plenty of food for thought for adults in this production. The script is neither preachy nor didactic but thought provoking. While the accompanying music may not be to adult taste, and the volume rather high, it is nevertheless an integral part of the whole, generating exhilaration and excitement, or by its absence, quiet, and a time for contemplation.

All aspects of this presentation are of the highest quality, the well managed sophisticated technology of the lighting, sound, and video use, and the very high quality of the acting and direction.

© 2006 Jane Penistan