Review: KILL YOUR PARENTS IN VIKING, ALBERTA

by Lynn on September 11, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ont.

Written by Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr
Directed by Rachel Cairns
Set by Bryce Hodgson and Bri Proke
Lighting by Jacq Andrade
Sound by Bryce Hodgson
Cast: Allie Dunbar
Michael Eisner
Libby Osler
Jimi Shlag.

A wild, dizzyingly funny play that makes an art form of family dysfunction. What were the playwright smoking when they wrote this?

The Story. A family funeral has brought the three Turtle siblings together to grieve, complain, accuse, argue, sign papers and eat sundaes. Their grandmother has died and the siblings gather reluctantly. They haven’t seen each other for a long time.

Susan (Allie Dunbar) is the efficient housewife who wants to keep a perfect home, complete with stress-free, argument free zones. Her brother Frank (Michael Eisner) is on parole, living in a half-way house. He is also getting help for his addictions. Perry, (Libby Osler) their sister, has bladder and date problems. She has to pee often. She doesn’t date at all, perhaps because of her attitude. She has just broken up with her girlfriend. She is close with Frank but not with Susan whom she thinks is a twit. Paul (Jimi Shlag) is Susan’s dim husband.

Perry and Frank have driven a long way in a snow storm to be at Susan and Paul’s house. Frank seems to be the peace-maker between Perry and Susan who squabble constantly. They obviously have grudges and animosity that has festered for a long time. It all comes out on this one night. Susan’s husband Paul initially appears benign, but he too has things that bug him.

The Production. Kill Your Parents in Viking, Alberta is a good old fashioned kitchen-sink play that takes place at a kitchen table in Susan Turtle’s pristine, kitsch-filled kitchen. Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr have written a zinger-filled, wildly off-the-wall comedy with a few surprises along the way. The writing is sharp, funny and pointed. And while I am impressed with the imagination of the two writers I did think that some of the revelations would have been things that would have been discussed by the siblings years before instead of thinking that these folks never talked. It could be true, but they all talk and I just thought that surely Perry at least would have given Susan get an earful when things arose and not have waited until this funeral.

The cast of four are dandy and know how to give and sell a laugh line. Or create a funny situation. They know how serious comedy is. Rachel Cairns directs with smart economy—none of this business of moving a character for no reason. Most of the action is at the kitchen table and the body language, the shifty in a chair or leaning forward to face down a sibling speaks volumes about relationships and the emotions they cause. Cairs also has an eye to ramping up the energy and suspense. As matters get heated the volume of the cast gets louder. After a while it’s all yelling. I think it would be more effective if that yelling was varied and tempered and not bellowed all the time. The audience stops listening if it’s all yelling. Those characters have important things to say; best that they be presented so that we do hear them.

That said, this is Rachel Cairns first time directing for the theatre. Talented woman. There is a fight at the end of the play that is dandy, thanks to Nate Bitton. And an ending that leaves you with your eyes popping. Woow.

Comment. The play and production are wild and woolly, sometimes on the verge of going too far, but then they come back. Blood Pact Theatre is a group of young, emerging artists, many of them from out west who have settled here. Make them feel welcome. We want them back with more mayhem.

Presented by Blood Pact Theatre.

Opened: Sept. 9, 2016.
Closes: Sept. 25, 2016.
Cast: 4; 2 men and 2 women.
Running Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, approx.

www.thestorefronttheatre.com

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