Destiny USA, written and performed by Laura Anne Harris as one of the two plays included in Blue Night, runs for about an hour. I believe I was the last person to enter the theatre because after I did the host closed the door and requested the audience mute their cellphones. And then lights up and the host was on the stage! Now, that was a surprise for me, as I was not expecting the host to be Laura herself. The actor/playwright being part of audience and then slowly switching into acting mode made me feel as if I was a part of the play itself.
In Destiny USA Laura Ann Harris shares her experiences of interacting with the ‘real’ America as a Relay Operator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She also shares other experiences like how she met her husband Chris, from honeymoon period to the point where things got tough, her immigration experience while moving to the US and more. Harris is a highly skilled actor, it was fun to see how she switched her voice to perform different characters while relaying the messages. She had good control of the stage, she moved around, sang a song, danced, shouted and cried all in one show. Though there were many humorous moments during the show, one that I enjoyed the most was when she used water from a bottle to simulate urination as a sign board next to her displayed ‘Make water greater again’, mocking Trump’s campaign.
In the centre of the stage, there was a small table with blue table cloth, which she used as the Relay Operator. And there was a scene in between with only blue lights. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it went perfectly with the theme Blue Night. I did feel a little tired in between, so I would suggest Harris to break the scenes into smaller chunks and also change her appearance from character to character, as I believe it would make the play look more colourful. The sound timing was perfect, whenever Harris pressed a key, or picked up the phone, sound played flawlessly.
Pun Pals, the second piece, is a half hour play written and directed by Tommy Grimly. It is a comedic play with two main characters Rosey and Gilda, who are trying to get rid of puns while they speak. If you are looking for puns then this is your show. Simply put it is a Pun Package. Gilda is played by Kathryn Robinson, Rosey by Veronica Bonderud, and various characters by Sean Mawhinney and Peter Takach. The show starts with the two girls who are working in a cafe and eventually they discover that they can only speak in puns. Then rest of the play consists of comedic scenes as they try to get rid of it.
I liked the energy that Bonderud's Rosey brought to the stage with her cheerful character provoking Gilda with her puns. There were a lot of props used in the show, but I did feel the coordination of actors with props could be improved, especially in the orca scene. The hangman's noose sliding down when they thought about suicide was one of the funniest scenes in the piece. Robinson's Gilda expressing her thoughts under red light was a very creative direction. Not to forget, my favourite pun was Rosey saying ‘Crapitalism’ instead of ‘Capitalism’
Two plays, Destiny USA and Pun Pals make the night Blue, in The Cascadia Project 2018, that combines forces of a creative writing professor, master students, and emerging playwrights to put on a festival of new plays from September 26th to October 7th 2018 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island.
Tickets at: https://www.thecascadiaproject.com/
~ reviewed by Gaurav Minocha
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