by Lynn on October 22, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Grand Canyon Theatre, 2 Osler St., Toronto, Ont.

Written and directed by Bryce Hodgson

Set by Bryce Hodgson

Lighting by Quinn Hoodless

Cast: Wayne Burns

John Healy

Mark Paci

Elizabeth Saunders

Ed is a tow truck driver going through hard times. He’s trying to stay sober to win back his wife and young daughter. His wife threw him out of the house because of his drinking. In the meantime he is staying with his godmother Bev at her waterfront house. He’s obviously drinking and has been caught driving drunk which he is trying to hide from his wife. His AA sponsor, Jay tries to get Ed back on the straight and narrow and urges him to go to AA meetings.

Bev is a no-nonsense woman, a widow who keeps to herself. She is sweet to Ed but knows his issues. She is wary of strangers especially when Jay comes to see Ed. We are told that there are forest fires raging in the distance. Only towards the end of the play do we learn of Bev’s issues as well. The information seems to come from nowhere and not solidly established.

From the press release: “Set in Kelowna British Columbia amidst the worse wildfire season in Canadian History, Dock Mother God Society is a play that explores modern western community and its relationship to death, family, generosity, resentment, forgiveness and our connection to the land we live on.”

I wish Bryce Hodgson’s play was as clear as that description of it.  I wish Hodgson invested as much detail and care in presenting a clear story as he invested in his wonderful realistic set of a sandy beach complete with toys and junk, a huge tree and an eclectic beach house. There’s precious little exploration of much here, just sound bites that touch on subjects. That leaves the play a mishmash. I wish I knew what the title meant, I think there is a secret longing to be discovered there and there are few hints.

The cast is excellent, lead by the formidable Elizabeth Saunders as Bev. She has a piercing stare that can pin a person to the spot while she looks them up and down. She is measured and jokey but still is a woman with whom you don’t want to mess. Mark Paci brings out the awkwardness of Ed, his angst, his lack of calm and ease. I wish there was more information to flesh him out. Rich (John Healy) and Jay (Wayne Burns) seem more like devices to move the story along rather than fleshed out characters in themselves.

It’s always dangerous when a playwright directs his own play as Bryce Hodgson is doing here. The writing requires a lot more work to clarify the story. Who’s going to tell him that? The director? Hmmm.

Blood Pact Theatre presents:

Opened: Oct. 10, 2019.

Closes: Oct. 26, 2019.

Running Time:  2 hours approx.

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