Written and directed by Jeremy Waller
Craning Neck Theatre
April 9 to 17, 2010
Vancouver, BC: Trunk is an original play by Vancouver playwright/director Jeremy Waller. Selected for workshopping through the 2009 Playwright's Colony at BC's Playwrights Theatre Centre, this is its premiere production.
Staged in the Box Sudio - a large "white box " space, presently configured with seating for just over 20 people per show, the dominant set piece is a two tiered metal scaffold on wheels, with white sheeting hiding the interior or drawn back to reveal the skelton of the structure.
A large battered trunk also features prominently - on the floor, or swinging, suspended like a pendulum, from the scaffold.
This is THE TRUNK - metaphor for the suppressed fears, anxiety and anger that, compounded by obsessive religiosity, turns Dylan into a violently abusive husband and father. The pain he inflicts on his wife and children devastates their lives and continues into the third generation.
At least that is what I think this play is about - that the effect of profound psychological dysfunction is felt far beyond the next generation.
However I must confess that while I felt the anger, the energy and the passion reverberate in the room along with David Mesiha's often pounding original music, I did not always follow the story and the transitions in time and space were often disconcerting and too abstract for my straining mind to get.
So with that caveat I will continue and if I get anything wrong I encourage the writer, cast or dramaturgs or others who have seen the show, to comment and point out my error. Or if you prefer you can review my review on the ReviewFromTheHouse Facebook Fan Page.
The cast of Jordan Bodiguel as Dylan, Luisa Jojic as his wife, Clara, Kathleen Pollard as Liza (his daughter- I think) and Jophiel (his grand-daughter) and Simon Driver as Holick, the abused son of Dylan and Clara, produced strong, very physical performances.
Bodiguel showed us a man, damaged by post-traumatic stress disorder (although the term itself was not coined till thirty years after his World War II experience) from seeing his best friend's head blown apart. Convinced the Lord is calling to him to "spread the word" his psychopathy is compounded by his religious fanaticism and he becomes an inhumane man who whips his children and banishes his wife to a convent so he can remarry.
Jojic was symathetic as the attractive young wife whose love for her husband can't overcome his destructive nature. I also enjoyed Driver's weird and other-world Holick and Pollard as the lame girl and then as the only seemingly sane person, Jophiel.
So here goes with what I think I was seeing in this surreal play. Holick takes on his father's tormented soul that is contained in the trunk and he finds himself in bizarre situations - London during a bombing raid, a submarine - the places of terror for his father during the war. He sees the early love between Dylan and Clara, the effect of the war on their marriage and then how his religious calling corrupts him totally. Is this happening in the mind of Holick, driven to psychosis by his father's abuse? Or is Holick appearing as just a figment of the imagination of the banished Clara, as she sits alone in her rejection reliving her life? Or did I just miss the whole point of the play? Help me someone.
The play runs 90 minutes with no intermission. It certainly held my attention for every one of those 90 minutes. I just wish that my first response was not "what exactly was that about? "
Tickets are $15. To book call 778-846-8776. The Box Studio is at 1622 Franklin Street, one block North of East Hastings Street, between Commercial Avene and Clark Street. It is on the north side of the street and the number is hard to see because it is on the recessed door. I felt a bit like Harry Potter looking for train 9 & 3/4