Terminal Theatre
The Vic by Leanna Brodie

Dates and Venue 16 - 21 Feb @ 8pm, Mat 20 Feb @ 2pm | Jericho Arts Centre, Vancouver

Reviewer Roger Wayne Eberle

Still a fledgling among independent theatre companies, Terminal Theatre is working hard to make a name for itself by staging a raw, gritty production of the convoluted psycho-dramatic exploration of victimization known simply as The Vic. A few benches, chairs, a table and a bed are the only elements in a minimalist set whose backdrop consists of a large screen for the projection of a film version of personal narrative central to the play's complex plot.

Actress April Cameron's memorable portrayal of a young girl named Cara engaged in various videotape confessionals flashes up on the screen at seemingly random junctures throughout the play. A sense of mystery is heightened by flashlights in the darkness wielded in search for the body of the nameless victim. As the play progresses, it becomes clear that there are more than a few victims involved. Sometimes the victimizers are on stage; sometimes they appear in the form of unseen offstage presences, made more real by the vivid imagining done through compellingly delivered lines of dialogue.

A good play crawls under your skin and leaves you uncomfortably alive with possibility. The Vic does all this and adds an itch you don't want to stop scratching. Some see prurience in all the voyeurism so central to theatre: prurience, pure and simple. It is all here. The savage grace of brutality seen through the eyes of the victim and those closest to her. The aftermath. The sum of all fears.

Men are not unmentionable here, but most of their deeds are, at least as far as they are chronicled by this all-female cast. Fathers inflict psychological abuse; surrogate fathers inflict physical abuse. There are those like Spud, played with vigour and sensitivity by Melissa Oei, who perpetuate the cycle of abuse in their own dysfunctional relationships; there are those like Linda, played with determination and resolve by Lori Ashton-Zondag, who repress things and seek solace in religion. If one is revolted by a Tanis, who enacts the true victim mentality by abjectly doting upon her victimizer, one can take comfort in a Cheryl, who stands up for herself and confronts her abuser.

Many good performances make this a play worth seeing. Emilie Leclerc is passionate and convincing as the tormented grad student Élise who struggles almost as much with her dissertation as she does with her turbulent relationship with Spud. Kathryn Kirkpatrick shows her ability to age like fine wine. She does a good job of transcending her years as the vitriolic movie director Darsana, whose edge-you-off-your-seat-with-candor-crassness pulls the mangled skein off of charisma to show its true colours. Unfortunately, Lori Ashton-Zondag has a more difficult time adopting the persona of an aging mother, often appearing as more of an older sister to Stefania Indelicato's Henley and Kristin Kowalski's Tanis than their conservative parent. Looking older than you really are is one thing; it is quite another to turn back the hands of time like April Cameron succeeds in doing as the seventeen-year-old Cara. Her filmed confessions are amusing, refreshingly candid and disarmingly innocent glimpses into the occasionally murky mindset of a clear-eyed, youthful psyche.

Let The Vic crawl under your skin. It just might awaken you to the possibility that making something out of suffering involves bringing victory out of a victim mentality.

© 2010 Roger Wayne Eberle