There might be a bit too much to follow in the script, but the acting will keep you captivated the whole way through
Dock Mother God Society by Blood Pact Theatre, playing at Grand Canyon, is a difficult one to pin down. I can’t tell if the piece, written and directed by Bryce Hodgson is profound, or if it only feels profound.
Ed (Mark Paci) has been thrown out by his wife for drinking. He’s staying with his godmother Bev (Elizabeth Saunders) until he can get back on his feet. They have quite the relationship – capable of caring and loving for each other, but also of irritating each other to no end.
Jay (Wayne Burns), who has his own colourful past, helps Ed as he struggles with his sobriety. Bev is feuding with her neighbour Rich (John Healy). All the while, a forest fire creeps ever-closer to Kelowna, where the action takes place. But wait! There are also tales of mermaids, murder and cat burglary. Honestly, it just felt like too much going on.
There are several plot lines, and I’m still not sure which is the main one. Is this play about a struggle with addiction? Bev and Ed’s relationship? A relationship to the land? Bev’s inner demons? Every time I got hold of something, another twist came along that seemed unrelated to what went before. There’s a lot here, but in my opinion, this play needs to be more centred.
I have to say though, I really enjoyed watching this show. Saunders and Paci could probably make reading the phone book compelling. Paci brings a vulnerability to the role of Ed as well as moments of incredible intensity. As for Saunders, God help you if she ever fixes her glare upon you or decides to suss out your story.
I was really intrigued by the roles of Rich and Jay, but I wish there was more context for the characters. I was ultimately unsure how they tied into the plot.
The subject matter may sound pretty dark, but there was some really good comedy in this play: not situational comedy or easy laughs, some real comedy gold. I can’t say anything more, or I will completely give it away – it’s all in the set-up you see.
And the set, oh my goodness the set! It was so intricate and intimate. Bryce Hodgson designed this as well, and it creates a home exactly where you expect these characters to live. A beachfront house built by its owners, stuck in the 80s, messy, and full of little treasures. There was a screen door, a tree (a whole tree!), and sand with all the seaweed and crap that comes with sand.
This show has a lot going for it; great cast, great set and a script that just needs a nudge to get it there. It would be a treat to see this script developed further, tightened-up and focused a bit more.
- Dock Mother God Society runs from October 2-26 at Grand Canyon (2 Osler St.)
- Shows run from Tuesday-Saturday and start at 8pm.
- Tickets cost $25 for general admissions, $20 for arts workers and $15 for youths under 18.
Photo by John Gundy