Patron Saint of Stanley Park
When you think patron saint, let’s face it…Stanley Park might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But put them together, and what you get is the second run of a holiday fable care of the Arts Club.
Written by playwright Hiro Kanagawa, The Patron Saint of Stanley Park attempts to dish sci-fi for the Christmas season. Not your traditional tale of gift-giving and egg nog drinking. Sure. But as much as it wishes to depart from the good ol’ clichés of hope and love and all that jazz…it delivers it in spades.
The lights dim and we are introduced to our narrator—a good humoured and wise hobo, Skookum Pete (Brian Linds)—our guide and signal man, who lives in a forgotten bunker below Prospect Point in Stanley Park. Think Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life minus the salvation bit. Scene two. Enter Marcia (Jillian Fargey), and her two children Jennifer (Valsy Bergeron) and Josh (Joseph Gustafson)—a family torn apart by the loss of a husband and father. One year prior…a pilot, a plane accident.
Marcia is in denial. Jennifer is furious and can’t bear to pretend anymore. Josh is lost in a world of make-believe, hoping aliens and creatures of the forest will guide his father back home. Think dysfunctional functional. And children who don’t listen to their mother. (Ah yes, even plays emulate life.) Rather than head to their uncle’s, Jennifer and Josh set out for Prospect Point to honour the one year anniversary of their father’s disappearance. Oh, and did I mention there’s a big storm a brewing. Trees are a falling. Wind is a whistling. Children are a trapped. Our guide comes to the rescue. The true spirit of Christmas is once again revealed to us all.
Yadda, yadda, yadda…the end. Ok, a bit unfair. Then again, no need to give you the play scene by scene. Best to watch it for yourself.
In terms of the production… Sci-fi you say? Huh. While Josh has reveries of monsters and extra terrestrials, and the odd big foot, the play isn’t a real departure from the traditional Christmas tale of lost and found, and its sci-fi elements, more alluded to than revealed. That’s not to say the piece is without its merits. Fargey (Marcia) was understated but portrayed honest human emotion. Bergeron (Jennifer) was the quintessential stubborn teenager, who conveyed the soft inside/hard outside archetype flawlessly. While Gustafson (Josh) was the cutest thing—and the perfect odd-ball recluse. (I still can’t believe this kid is in grade 10!) Linds (Skookum Pete) was equally strong as a performer, however, I wish the writing had allowed for less hand-holding through its story-telling.
In terms of the set design and props (Naomi Sider), the fabric trees were an ingenious way to create a forested area on such a small stage, and Skookum Pete’s cart—talk about magic where you least expect it. The sound (Noah Drew) popped—from control tower voiceovers to the crick crack of falling cedars—well done.
All and all, a wonderful reminder that a little light, a bit of energy, a splash of hope, a ton of love and some darn fruit cake never did anyone any harm. A good night on the town for the whole family.
The Patron Saint of Stanley Park runs until December 24th at the Revue Stage in Granville Island. For more info or to get tickets, click here.