by Lynn on February 19, 2011

in Archive

At the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. Written by James Durham. Directed by Mary Ellen MacLean. Set and costumes by Jung-Hye Kim. Lighting by Rebecca Picherack. Starring: Matt Bois, Mark McGrinder, Simon Rainville and Tamila Zaslavsky.

 Tommy loves to play hockey. He’s practiced for hundreds of hours and played probably hundreds of games, and he’s only 12 years old. He loved it when his father taught him how to skate when he was a ‘kid’. Then they were a team. But now that Tommy’s 12 and  he wants to play for the triple A junior hockey team, his father has changed. Now playing hockey is a serious business. Tommy’s father keeps on riding him from the sidelines to pass and shoot and stop missing opportunities. It’s getting on Tommy’s nerves. It’s getting on the nerves of Tommy’s hockey playing friends too—Deke and Bobby.

It’s so bad that when Tommy’s father yells out from the sidelines, Tommy freezes and doesn’t play well. His father is well meaning he says. When Tommy’s father was a kid, he wanted to play for triple A as well. But he wasn’t good enough. It was a terrible disappointment. But Tommy’s father thinks that Tommy has the goods. And so he rides him. He urges him to be aggressive, going even so far as to play dirty. It’s allowed he says. Until Tommy illegally hooks Deke and hurts him. At first even Tommy tries to fool himself that that behaviour is acceptable, until his friends set him straight. When his father yells at him during another game, Tommy has enough. He takes off his gloves and sits on the ice refusing to play. Eventually Tommy and his friends set his father straight—that Tommy loves playing hockey and that’s that. He will do the best he can and his father will just have to keep quiet about it. Finally his father sees the light.

Simplistic? Sure. But this one hour play is mainly for the school kids who come by the bus loads with their classes, who might be going through the same kind of parental pressure as Tommy is. If it gives the kid the confidence to say ‘back off’ to the pushy parent, fine. If a parent brings a son or daughter to non-school performances, and the parent sees himself/or herself in Tommy’s dad and does something about it, all the better.

The plays produced by the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People are not meant to hector or lecture, or hit anyone over the head with ‘a message.’ They are meant to reflect the world in which the young person lives. And this play does it in the gentlest way.

Director Mary Ellen MacLean has a clear vision about how to present this play without hitting us over the head. The hockey-rink set of Jung-Hye Kim is impressive as the characters ‘skate’ on roller blades as they pass the imaginary puck. The cast of Matt Bois as Deke, Simon Rainville as Tommy and Tamila Zaslavsky as Bobby are all impressive as these adults play kids. And they don’t do it in that simpering, childish way. Mark McGrinder as Tommy’s dad deserves special mention. McGrinder’s almost gentle way and his winning smile, make Tommy’s dad a flawed man and not an ogre. We do believe that he wants the best for his kid.

THE BIG LEAGUE plays at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People Mainspace until February 24, 2011.

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1 Lynn Slotkin April 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm

What’s your blog about?