Local actor and director John Lunman has had his plate full this theatrical season with involvement in a number of productions in the Durham Region: Jenny’s House of Joy at Northumberland Players; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Borelians in Scugog; and this summer, Dracula at the Peterborough Theatre Guild.
At the end of this month, he will direct George F. Walker’s DEAD METAPHOR for the Durham Shoestring Performers.
For 43 years, DSP has presented the most challenging and cutting edge plays in the region. It is a director driven company under the astute artistic direction of Carolyn Wilson who keeps the passion burning for good theatre from all countries, but with a particular emphasis on our own Canadian playwrights who are not so well represented in the seasons of other local community theatres.
George F. Walker is arguably one of Canada’s best-known playwrights with over 35 plays to his name along with several television series. He originally answered an advertisement for new playwrights posted by Factory Theatre in the early 1970s, and his writing started a new era in Canadian plays. Until then, most Canadian plays dealt with a rural existence set in the western prairies. Walker turned that on its head by writing about urban characters of whom many were based on the people he grew up with in Toronto’s East end. He loved to write about the poor and the marginalized in society and showed them to be heroes in their own lives, if slightly comic heroes, who didn’t quite know what to do and often did the wrong thing or the right thing by accident.
His latest work, although still urban in nature, no longer references Toronto specifically, and his themes and characters now echo the lives of urban poor and rapidly failing middle class of any major metropolis. DEAD METAPHOR deals with the plight of returning soldiers who, having served their country, now struggle with PTSD and lack of meaningful work. What can you do when your main skill is killing people from a distance?
Walker’s works have always been political but DEAD METAPHOR, although written long before the 2016 U.S. presidential election results, certainly foreshadows such a political aspirant in the role of Helen, the play’s right wing politician
DEAD METAPHOR is a scathing political comedy about the collision of values between left and right, rich and poor, male and female. It is a Walker trait that his female characters are always much smarter than the males around them--and often far more deadly. Having a former sniper as the main character is certainly a comedy of a darker nature.
Audience members are warned the language in this play is very harsh and at times blistering. The play will cause you to question your beliefs about right and wrong. Given Walker’s penchant for the ambiguous, audiences will leave with plenty to discuss at intermission and after the performance with one major question on everyone’s mind. No spoiler alerts here, but suffice it to say the conclusion deals with a very current social issue at its heart.
A number of Durham actors appear in this production – Craig Martin, Paul Love, Amber Vibert and Jane Hickey. Joseph and Kristi Lauria hail from Toronto. The Stage Manager for this production is Tracey Magee-Graham and Producer is Carolyn Wilson.
The Durham Shoestring Performers’ production of DEAD METAPHOR runs March 24, 25, 29, 30, 31 and April 1 at 8:00 pm at the Oshawa Arts Resource Centre behind City Hall, 45 Queen Street. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased either at the door before performance times. For further information, please visit their website here. Once again, this is a reminder of mature themes and language in this production.