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Last chance to see In a World Created By A Drunken God at Theatre Orangeville

by Chris Daponte

ORANGEVILLE - Few bonds in life are stronger than that between a father and son. And few emotional scars can be more deep-seeded and difficult to resolve than those inflicted during a lifelong absence of that bond.

It’s heavy stuff, but thanks to brilliant acting performances, In A World Created By A Drunken God manages to engage, entertain and enthral Theatre Orangeville audiences, despite the arduous subject matter.

The play opens with the newly-single Native Canadian Jason (played by Trevor Duplessis) preparing to move from his modest Toronto apartment back to a Native reserve with his mother.

It’s clearly not a banner day in Jason’s life, and his problems are compounded right away with the arrival of stranger Harry (Kurt Spenrath).

As it turns out, Harry’s arrival is no accident. In fact, it’s more of a monumental gift-seeking mission that has brought the American hospital fundraiser north of the border.

A nervous and anxious Harry explains in due course that he is in fact Jason’s half brother, as over 30 years ago, Harry’s father had an affair with Jason’s mother while up north on a hunting trip.

Harry explains that his father managed to keep the affair, and Jason’s birth, a secret - that is until a recent health scare prodded his old man to come clean.

An understandably shocked and dismayed Jason wonders aloud why he should care, prompting Harry to drop the bomb: that their father will die soon if he does not receive a life saving kidney transplant, and Jason may be the only match for a donor.

That announcement sets of a whirlwind of confrontation - both verbal and physical - between the two, who despite very different pasts and upbringings, have a lot in common, including recent break-ups with women, a love of hockey and, ironically, a sincere appreciation for those who raised them.

Jason struggles to even consider the request, insisting his real father was his grandfather, and his birth father’s “cathartic confession was one of convenience only.”

The pair argue and fight constantly throughout the production, taking the audience on an emotional journey - highlighted by themes of  material versus sentimental possessions,  loyalty versus betrayal, right versus wrong and the value of forgiveness  - that reveals from both sides just how crucial it is for sons to have a father, and vice versa.

Jason’s dilemma, and indeed his final decision (which will not be ruined here) will split audience members, both individually and collectively, as they try to decipher what they would do in the same situation.

It’s a remarkable story from playwright Drew Hayden Taylor featuring two complex and interesting characters, who are brought to life with unadulterated fervour by Duplessis and Spenrath.

Both are exceptional in their respective roles, skillfully unfolding layers of emotions, memories and heartache as if they were their own. Audiences will be blown away by the powerful performances of both, although its Duplessis who carries the production in many scenes.

Spenrath has done an excellent job of directing and Duplessis adds some fine choreography during the fight scenes. The set and lighting design, from Beckie Morris and Steve Lucas respectively, are perfect.

And while the subject matter may be serious, it’s not all drab conversations and doom and gloom here. Quite the contrary;  In A World Created By A Drunken God features many moments of levity and a few running jokes throughout the production.

Some may find the colourful language - including a plethora of “F-bombs” - offensive, but it actually adds to the effectiveness of the script and ensures the characters remain believable.

Other than an odd beginning to the second act that seems out of place, it’s hard to find much of anything not to like with In A World Created By A Drunken God.

It’s an impressive dramatic production highlighted by commanding performances and an original story that, regardless of its outcome, manages to relay an inalienable truth: “there’s a hell of a lot more to family than just a few strands of DNA.”

In A World Created By A Drunken God plays six shows a week until March 6. For tickets call 1-519-942-3423 or 1-800-424-1295 or visit www.theatreorangeville.ca.

 

 

Vol 44 Issue 09

 
 

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