By Deena Kinarthy
Kaleidoscope Theatre’s latest production, Robinson and Crusoe, is just the kind of show that people of all ages can enjoy. Set up at the Metro Studio’s black box theatre, it opened last Friday night to an audience full of families with young children and their parents, mixed among young couples, and single adults. Right away, we see a top of a roof positioned in the middle of the stage floor, and a large projection screen for a backdrop with video of planes crashing. All the subsequent action takes place onstage in the clearly defined, small surface area.
The first half of the play is largely communicated through non-verbal action and telling facial expressions. The American soldier (Gary Garneau) is quite adept at the physicality of the role, and communicates effectively through his body language and physical actions in the first half. When he finally does speak, it is with great delivery. It is never explicitly stated, but we can infer that the play takes place during WWII, and the two soldiers that find themselves both stranded on the same rooftop are American and Japanese, from opposing sides of the war. The second solider (John Han), does an amazing job in a non-English speaking role, as he speaks Japanese throughout the play. Starting off full of rage and aggression as enemies, the two soldiers eventually realize they must work together to survive. While they start out as enemies, in the end they become good friends. Robinson & Crusoe not only shows us a very interesting cultural exchange between two languages and customs, but they show us hope for humanity. Only the American character speaks English, while they have to deal with the sometimes humorous language barriers. Surprisingly, the show is full of great humor. I found several lovely moments such as when they drink a bottle of wine together in order to put a message in the bottle, but get drunk in the process. Or when they find matching Hawaiian t-shirts and pretend they are on a tropical island. There are also some touching moments that reveal a bit of humanity, as when in the search for food, they find a small mouse, and neither solider can find it in them to kill the creature.
Transitions between scenes is also expertly designed, as they move from day to night and back to day again. The lighting by Lighting Designer Ben Burrow, works well with the projection design (Pat Rundell) at making the scenes appear like early dawn, or a starry night sky with shooting stars. I enjoyed the use of the projection screen as the backdrop of sky. It helped to create a sense of place onstage.
Overall, this is a quality production, and no matter what the age, it’s a show everyone will enjoy!
What: Robinson & Crusoe
Where: Metro Studio
When: Saturday March 5 2pm, Sunday March 6 2pm
For ticket information: http://www.kaleidoscope.bc.ca