It's ugly. It's harsh.
And it's the truth.
Theatre North West presents Kevin Loring's Where the Blood Mixes until March 5.
To get the message this play is trying to tell, audience members not only need to attend with an open mind, but more importantly, with an open heart, ready to receive a glimpse into a world most of us are fortunate enough to only read about in the newspaper.
The play takes us to a First Nations community where Christine, a child of residential school survivors, finds her way back to the home she had been removed from at a young age.
There, she finds people struggling with their past, trying to move forward into a lighter, more positive place.
There is certainly a lot of much-needed comic relief to help ease the heavy burden of the subject matter of this play and that makes it easier to see and hear. But this play makes a strong statement without bashing you over the head with it. The message is survivors survive any way they can. Some thrive, some dwell, and some succumb to the burden.
Bravo to Theatre North West for having the courage to bring in a play that not only entertains, but offers some food for thought, broadening what can at times be a closed secure little world we live in and opening it up to show us things are not so easy for some and aren't we lucky to have not had to live through what a whole society of people have endured.
Lisa C. Ravensbergen is a brilliant actress, whose poignant portrayal of a proud and angry First Nations woman made me laugh and cry so hard my son, who attended with me, thought I might never stop. But the empathy I felt for her character, June, as she delved into her sordid personal history was heart wrenching and bleak, with a little hope thrown in for good measure. Because without hope, what's left?
Each of the five characters in the play are strong in their own way.
Jenn Ramsdin, played Christine, the young woman who comes back to her community to find the father from whom she was taken. Ramsdin did a great job, finding the balance of city-living young woman, as the roots she came from slowly emerged the longer she was home.
Gordon Patrick White, played Mooch, June's boyfriend and everybody's friend. White's depiction of the Mooch, who charmed his way to free beer and sandwiches, with the darker side, sadder side of a man still haunted by the abuses he suffered during his time at residential school, was compelling to witness.
Craig Lauzon played Floyd, Christine's dad, whose wife was overcome with the realities she faced as a student of the residential school. Floyd's life spiraled downward as he struggled and watched his beloved struggle, finally losing his only child. Lauzon drew the picture of a First Nations man, barely managing to maintain his life with strong conviction.
Kent Allen, played barkeep George true to form, focusing on the fact that he was providing a needed service to the community, while trying to provide some balance, all too aware of the issues alcohol can bring to any struggling community.
Each actor was strong in their roles, making this a powerfully driven play.
The set, as always, brilliantly designed by Hans Saefkow, lent itself perfectly as a tool to move the play along.
This is Loring's first play, and it won the Jessie Richardson Award for outstanding original script, the Sydney J. Risk prize for outsanding original script by an emerging playwright and the 2009 Governor General's literacy award for drama.
Go to Theatre North West and see why.
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