Tuesday 10 April 2012

Dionysus in Stony Mountain Review

Last week I saw Steven Ratzlaff’s Dionysus in Stony Mountain play at the Rachel Browne Theatre. A few of my classmates had gone to a show the night before, and so they talked about their own experiences in regards to the play. From what I heard, religion was a strong element in the production, which worried me because often things that heavily rely on religion as a theme, don’t seem to hold my attention for very long…

…and I was right to be worried.

Nestled into my seat, my eyes were on the clock waiting for the play to begin. It started about 10 minutes late, which doesn’t seem like a long time, but I was already beginning to get antsy.

The first act finally started with actor Sarah Constible on set, portraying the role of prisoner psychiatrist, Heidi Prober. She was quickly joined on stage by Ross McMillan, aka, James Hiebert, a prisoner of Stony Mountain seemingly obsessed with the ideals of philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

I heard a lot about Nietzsche when I took philosophy of history at The University of Winnipeg; I didn’t pay too much attention then, and didn’t pay too much attention during the monologues about his theory during this play. Don’t get me wrong…Constible and McMillan did an excellent job committing to their roles, and it was certainly interesting to see their characters interact. But the dialogue lacked interest for me, which isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault.

Aside from the fellow CreComm students who filled the back row, most people in the audience seemed to be in their mid-fifties to late-eighties, which tells me that I was not the target audience for this play. So why would I be engaged?

Although I did fall asleep for a fair chunk of the first act, I managed to stay awake all the way through act two. Like the students who saw the play the night before said, the second act was a lot more interesting. Constible played the same character, but in this act she had decided to retire from her position as a prisoner psychologist. McMillan however, switched roles from the prisoner, to Prober’s uncle Eric.

The relationship these two characters portrayed was interesting to watch. Although they spent the majority of the scene arguing with each other, you could tell they once had many similarities between them.

I commend McMillan for his acting chops, because he found a way to make sure his two characters were complete opposites, right down to the way he carried himself. In the first act he was walking around with his arms flailing, and sat in a slouched position when he decided to take a seat. As uncle Eric, he walked tall, straight, and with swag.

Constible also did a great job with the different sides of Prober she played. She had a lot more energy in the second act (a requirement of her character of course), and she delivered her lines with such heart.

So, what did I think of the play in a nutshell? The dialogue wasn’t as intriguing as I would’ve liked, but I give a big round of applause to Constible and McMillan for delivering great performances.

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