Kill Your Parents has laughs and tension, now on stage at the Storefront Theatre
My first and last impressions of Kill Your Parents In Viking, Alberta were “wow.” The show is a co-production of the Storefront Arts Initiative and Blood Pact Theatre and currently plays at The Storefront Theatre. It is a dark comedy with focus on the highs and lows of three siblings meeting after the death of their grandmother.
My first “wow” came the moment I stepped into the theatre space. The set, designed by co-writer Bryce Hodgson and Producer and Production Manager Bri Proke, was like every suburban kitchen I have ever set foot in. The older appliances, worn table and chairs perfectly capture the Canadian small-town aesthetic.
I also loved the specific touches of the cat calendar, the Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and the picture of Paul Henderson’s famous goal in ’72. It set up Susan and Paul’s characters well, as I immediately got the impression they were simple, small-town Canadian folk.
The town of Viking, Alberta is where Susan and Paul’s kitchen is located and the show opens with siblings Perry (Libby Osler), Frank (Michael Eisner), and Susan (Allie Dunbar) sharing pre-dinner “special sundaes.” Frank and Perry have come to meet with Susan to have her sign the will of their late grandmother. Perry is intent on leaving as soon as possible to catch their flight back to Vancouver.
Dundar was great as doting older sister Susan, dressing the sundaes with chocolate sauce and maraschino cherries with care while trying to ignore the tension running between her and her younger sister Perry. Osler as Perry excelled with her comedic timing early on, her sarcastic snipes continually dashing Susan’s hopes of a nice family dinner and reunion.
As Frank, Eisner’s comedic chops were also on point during these scenes, as he played the middle-man between his two bickering sisters. His dramatic retelling of the story of “The Crow” is also a highlight.
The story began to delve into its dramatic meat when Susan’s locksmith husband Paul (Jimi Shlag) shows up with Greek takeout for the foursome. Shlag was blue-collar gold. The moment he took his hunting hat off to reveal the ball cap underneath highlighted this to perfection.
The four share conversation that elicited early laughs. Things get dark quick when Perry, hurt and feeling abandoned by Susan, turns on Paul for “stealing” her sister away years previous. Perry also feels slighted by Susan’s lack of support as Perry had to care for their ailing grandmother alone while Frank was in jail for a drug-induced act of violence.
This all leads to a twist near the end with Paul’s character that I wasn’t entirely sold on, as it seemed to come out of nowhere. After the show, I spent some time trying to draw the connection between the continual references to “The Crow” and what happens at the end. I might be thinking too literally or I need a re-watch, but beyond the great energy and emotions of the actors, the plot twist didn’t work for me as I feel there was no set up.
In the final moment, the fate of Frank led to my second “wow” of the night, as it was something I didn’t see coming.
- Kill Your Parents In Viking, Alberta is playing until September 25, 2016 at The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor St. West)
- Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm
- Tickets are $25 and are available online or at the box office at (416) 531-1117, with PWYC Wednesdays. PWYC tickets only available at the door.
- Notes: Mature Language
Photo of Libby Osler, Allie Dunbar, Michael Eisner, and Jimi Schlag by John Gundy