Snowman, written by Greg MacArthur, features an award-winning cast including Derek Metz (The Patron Saint of Stanley Park), Anna Cummer (The Miracle Worker), Kathleen Duborg (A Lie of the Mind) and Charlie Gallant (The Merchant of Venice).
The first half focuses on monologues, introducing each of the play’s characters. The audience learns that a young gay man (Jude, played by Charlie Gallant) was abandoned as a child by his parents. They simply drove off one day in the car and left him to fend for himself. Jude finds friendship in a couple who live on the edge of a glacial shield. The couple (Denver and Marjorie, played by Derek Metz and Kathleen Duborg respectively) have made a life for themselves by drifting from one locale to another, picking up odd jobs and friends, and then moving on.
They’ve been at it for 10 years before arriving at the edge of nowhere, somewhere in the Canadian north, the setting for Snowman. The play is a mix of mild comedic moments coupled with self-reflection and each character’s relationship with the place they’re in (whether physical or mental).
A pivotal part of the story occurs when Jude discovers a frozen body buried in the ice. The second half continues with monologues, joined by occasional confrontations between the four in varying circumstances.
Once a female archeologist (Kim, brilliantly played by Anna Cummer) is contacted by Denver to investigate the body, the play’s pace starts to pick up. I won’t spoil it for my readers with too many more details. At the play’s end however, nothing’s changed. And that’s OK with Denver and Marjorie. Speaking of Marjorie, her role seemed underutilized in the first half. I was glad to see her getting more action in towards Snowman’s end.
The stage set allows for easy scene changes, a large bed on stage serving as the key prop. Scores of trees surround the set, and together with atmospheric lighting and live guitar, help set the mood. Sound designer Robert Perrault created a live sound experience, playing and underscoring the whole show using three guitars and various effects pedals.
Although I enjoyed the guitar playing throughout the first half, by the time the second half was underway, I began to lose interest in the same loop of music, only occasionally broken by a strange sound effect to mirror what was happening on stage.
After Snowman, Craig Hall will move to Calgary to serve as Vertigo Theatre’s Artistic Director.
Snowman plays at The Arts Club Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston Street (Granville Island), through November 19.
Showtimes: Tuesday through Sunday, 8 pm; Saturday 2 pm matinee.
All photos courtesy of Ital Erdal.