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Wreckage by Sally Stubbs

Dates and Venue 16-26 May 2007 @ Playwright's Theatre Centre, Granville Island and 30 May – 2 June 2007 @ Centre Pavilion Theatre, Kamloops

Director Sally Stubbs Fight Director John James Hong Set Niki Boyd Music/ Sound Catalin Ursu Lighting Darren W. Hales Costumes Stephanie Koropatnick Stage Manager Vera Ha

Reviewer Jane Penistan


Wreckage is a dark comedy. The dim lights rise on a bare stage with large bent girders in the upstage corner of the acting area. As the action proceeds, three black boxes are used ingeniously to represent the various loci of the play.

The costumes are well designed to be indicative of the roles of the wearers. Lighting and sound are efficiently managed and do a good job of illuminating the time and place of the many changing scenes. Yes, this is a very economically produced show, but the acting and direction are rich in talent and performance.

A woman walks away from a train wreck. What happens to her? A mysterious suitcase turns up in a shady boarding house in Vancouver, nearly fifty years later, from where? Who are all thee people? There are tangled relationships, tough characters, innocence and more lost, and the outstanding Momma of Joan Bryans who is the centre and sturdy lynchpin of the whole fascinating, believable but incredible story.

Tosha Doiron skillfully plays the dual role of both mother, and daughter searching for her family, who finds some clues to her past in the suitcase, and in Momma’s stories. James Behenna, as Cardinal, a railway cop who succumbs to the charms of cocaine, and Adam Lolacher as Big Man, Momma’s son, are the men in Rose /Violet’s lives. Kristina Murphy gives a superb performance of a church statue, and as a hard-bitten back alley abortionist. Both are very clever cameos.

Seth Ranaweera is Momma’s bodyguard and chucker outer. He is an unintelligent and violent but loyal friend, without whom Momma could not survive. Frances Hertzer, who in previous productions has always appeared as a perfect lady, now presents a raddled druggie.

All these characters are larger than life, and in this lies much of the play’s humour, sending up the dark side of those who live across the tracks.

The short scenes, which change at a breath-taking pace, are sometimes confusing as to where and when they occur. Are they in Vancouver or Kamloops, 1920s or 1940s? Most of the time the writing makes this clear, once the audience becomes aware that this is happening. There is no doubt about the train that opens and closes the play.

This intriguing play holds its interest throughout by its clever, humourous script, good interpretations, and exceptionally fine acting. It offers a good evening’s entertainment and deserves a good audience.

© 2007 Jane Penistan