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vancouverplays review


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Kathleen Duborg as Marjorie and Charlie Gallant as Jude. Photo by Itai Erdal-Ft.

by Greg MacArthur
Rumble Productions
Revue Stage, Granville Island
Nov. 4-19
From $15 at

A frosty slice of Gothic Canadiana, Greg MacArthur’s Snowman takes us on a highly stylized excursion through sex, ice and body parts in the Great White North. Imagine Bob and Doug Mackenzie with script and direction by David Lynch.

Even if the playwright admires his own weirdness just a little too much, Craig Hall’s Rumble Productions staging is slick and funny, spooky and tightly performed.

Yvan Morissette has designed one of the more effective sets for the Revue theatre’s awkward configuration, a small thrust stage with trees and a scrim behind it, against which the characters address monologues to the audience as John Webber’s lighting turns it gorgeous shades of blue or red. At centre stage a large mattress spins on a revolve, a kind of dream-wheel on which everyone spills out their fantasies and fears.

Drifters Denver (Derek Metz) and Marjorie (Kathleen Duborg) have ended up in northern Alberta, in a cabin on the edge of a glacier, renting stolen videotapes for a living. Their friend Jude (Charlie Gallant), a strange young man deserted by his parents, regularly comes by to watch gay German porn with them and build snowmen on the glacier, where one day he finds the ancient body of a boy frozen beneath the ice.

A phone call to Edmonton brings out sexy archeologist Kim (Anna Cummer) who, along with Jude and Marjorie, has her life shaken to the core by the snowman from hell.

At one point Marjorie describes the frozen boy as a kind of zombie seizing Jude’s soul, but it’s really just a chunk of inert, partly rotting flesh onto which everyone projects their own needs. For Jude it becomes a grotesque love object, an alter ego around which he builds a simulacrum of the home he’s lost. As a catalyst for Kim it first loosens her libido, then totally spooks her out.

Marjorie, the play’s most disturbed character, dreams of having her insides excavated the way the frozen body will be removed from the ice. She nearly succeeds.

Ironically, Denver, who seems such an oddball in the play’s opening monologues, is the least affected by the snowman’s appearance. He turns out to be a good-natured hoser who just goes with the flow. Metz turns in a charming, relaxed performance that gets highest honours.

All the acting is excellent, although the women have a tougher job with characters less clearly motivated than the men’s.

Robert Perrault’s spooky live electric guitar accompaniment makes the dialogue feel almost operatic: strange and funny arias from the icy Canadian soul.

Jerry Wasserman