Theatre at UBC

Tales of the Lost Formicans
by Constance Congdon

Venue: Frederic Wood Theatre
Dates: 25 September - October 4 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan




Director: Stephen Malloy Set designer: Daniele Guevara Costume design:Joyce Rosaario Sound design: Amos Hertzman Lighting design : Daniele Guevara




Costume sketch by Joyce Rosario

Theatre at UBC opens its 2003-4 season with a hilarious modern comedy, Tales of the Lost Formicans. This play presents an alien's view of American home life in the 20th/21st century. Though a somewhat cynical view of present day North America culture and way of life, it is not without humour, which abounds in the dialogue. Are we really seeing ourselves as others see us? The aliens think our technology is primitive in the state of our methods of communication over distance. They are not too impressed with our computers either. However their own speech to us is very stilted and monotone.

Everyone has fun in this production, but the technical crew excels here. They have a glorious time with projections, multiple and many lighting effects, soundscapes galore and mobile stage flooring. As this presentation runs with considerable speed and energy, every cast and crew member is kept on his/her toes, almost literally.


Eight of the ten cast members alternate between being humans and aliens on alternate nights, while Robin Mooney (Evelyn) and Robin Redmond (Jim) remain human throughout all performances. Jason Nicola as Eric, the teenaged son of the family, enjoyed his license to behave as obnoxiously as possible, and Helenna Santos was a convincing, if larger than life, friendly neighbour.

Joyce Rosario's aliens' attire are an amalgam of laboratory workers' white coats and dark glasses, covering the contemporary street clothes which the actors wear when they are human.

This is a splendid vehicle for theatre students, covering as it does, present day technical and human problems. Under Stephen Malloy's expert direction Tales of the Lost Formicans holds the audience in a state of suspended disbelief, and aching with laughter. There is no time to think of the deeper meaning behind all this, that comes after the audience has left the theatre.

Tales of the Lost Formicans runs at The Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC at 7.30 p.m., Monday - Saturday, September 24 - October 4. Information, tickets and reservations are available at the Frederic Wood Box office or by calling 604-822-2678.

2003, Jane Penistan