|Posted on 2 December, 2016 at 9:05|
If you haven't booked your tickets to see the Sweetline Theatre & MUN Performance and Communications Media Diploma program's collaborative production Three Days of Rain - you NEED to get online at www.artsandculturecentre.com because this is a production that is NOT TO BE MISSED!
Apologies if you think I'm shouting at you...but well, I totally am... YOU NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW!
The show begins mere hours before the reading of Ned's will; his children Nan & Walker begin to unlock family secrets while battling the blurred lines of mental instability and familial relationships. Aiden Flynn as Walker, and Alexis Koetting as Nan portray the reality of families dealing with mental instability. Their unconditional love for one another is constantly upstaged by Walker's distractions and subsequent disappearances. The introduction of Pip, played by Paul Wilson, adds another level of drama to an already tumultuous tale.
The three battle with their pasts, and their impending futures with the shocking revelations after the reading of a will...and they come to terms with their abilities to move forward with and for one another in a new life. The play attempts to address the realities of living with mental illness, while at the same time maintaining a level of ambiguity that actually reinforces the truth of the situation.
At intermission the secret apartment discovered by Walker & Nan in act one, is transformed to the contemporary pad shared by Ned & Theo - architectural wizards and business partners, and of course the fathers of Nan & Walker, and Pip. This rewind into the lives that created those in act one brings full circle an impending sense of chain reactions. Action and consequence are played out in such distinct timing that you cannot help but begin linking the chain loops to retrace the steps leading to Walkers' disappearing acts discussed in the opening scene. The play itself, through the portrayal of these three stellar performers, seems to propel around and around, like a record stuck on a broken loop, skipping a beat every so often.
These little hiccups give rise to the realities of familial disfunction caused by Ned & Theo's toxic relationship that is oddly also one of the most respectful and loving ones simultaneously, Lina & Ned's intrigue and calm serenity directly contrasted from their children's experiences of their relationship in act one, and Ned's personal battle with his stutter bring the audience to a surreal place of mundane reality.
These are real people struggling with what it means to be alive in their worlds, and their minds.
Aiden Flynn, the current director of the provincial Arts and Culture Centres (St. Johns, Gander, Grand Falls, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Lab.City) brings to life the characters of Walker & Ned with such ease and sophistication. His attention to detail is remarkable. As Walker he nervously touches everything in the secret apartment, he attempts to find life in the things left behind, and maintains a free-spirited air about him while clearly his mind is running faster than his lips can carry. His demeanor, posture, and of course speech completely flip in act two as he transforms into the thoughtful, and seemingly reserved Ned - who really just wants his own story to be heard. Flynn's portrayal of Ned is magnetic and real. Every movement, every sound, is perfectly timed to emphasize his ability to be so much more than the world allows him to be.
Alexis Koetting as Nan & Lina is the perfect dynamic duo in one single body. Koetting flips seamlessly between the two characters, and brings a softer, more reflective side to Lina that is undeniably the twinkle from which Nan was born. In Koetting we see throughout the two acts the evolution of matrilineal relationship, the story of mother & daughter and how their views of the world have become what they are because of the situations they have found themselves in. Koetting, a performer with Perchance Theatre in Cupids, and published author (you need to check out her book Encore, you can purchase it for $20 on the door OR at the local Chapters!) is perfectly cast in this piece because of her incredible ability to breathe life and love into every situation at exactly the right moment, with exactly the right amount of pressure. She freezes out Walker, Pip, & Theo at times, and then turns up the heat to record breaking temperatures at others - just to keep us audience members on our toes!
And of course Paul Wilson as Pip & Theo is a brilliant injection of passion and humour to every situation. His use of the American accent provides a warmth to his characters and allows the audience to instantly accept Pip, flaws and all. And his no-apology approach to Pip is refreshing - Pip is what he is and his joy lies in being exactly that. His portrayal of Theo takes Pip and almost places him in a straight jacket of emotion. Theo wants to let out his emotions so frequently but doesn't... until he does. And then they explode in a beautiful fireball that ignites the stage. Wilson's past roles have taken him from classical performance with Perchance Theatre, through to rock musicals, television, and most recently as Vanstone in the Netflix series FRONTIER. The thing you should watch for when you go and see Wilson portray these characters? The way his entire body is invested in his role. From the tips of his toes, to the top of his head, the movement of each finger, the stilted pacing, the smallest tilt of his head - Wilson is possibly one of the only actors who I have met and had the pleasure of working with, who is physically present in the scene at every single moment, constantly adjusting to the situation as it plays out in that moment. This performance is no exception.
Of course these choices would not have been articulated so clearly without the mastermind, Director Danielle Irvine. This Newfoundlander certainly has much to be proud of, not only in her own accomplishments (HELLO she's the BMO ArtsNL Artist of the Year! among other things...), but also for integrating with Pat Dempsey & Robert Gauthier, and the MUN Performance and Communications Media Diploma course to demonstrate the grit and dedication necessary to implement a successful production. And let me tell you, this production does not fall short. Irvine's direction of the actors, and overall vision has been presented formidably. I put this down to the simple way that Irvine treats everyone as a professional, no matter their level of experience. She places everyone on a level playing field, and the results are astounding.
Huge shoutouts to the students of these fine instructors who produced the entire show - without their tireless work, it would not have been possible. And while I may review the performance, and the actors - it is because of the production crew that a performance comes together. They set and strike the stage, the decorate and design the ambiance through physical attributes, set dressing, lighting, and sound. They are the ones who transport us to the world the actors get to play in. They are the ones who produce and market the show, find sponsers, write grant applications, sell ads, and fundraise. Their work on this production must not go unnoticed. Every element was precisely timed and on point. So congratulations on a successful production!
**Photo Credit: Sweetline Theatre, MUN Performance and Communications Media Diploma, & Emily Corcoran