There is so much going on in The Chariot Cities that it sometimes feels like it is going to collapse under its own weight, but this talented cast not only gives us some beautifully realized moments, it leaves us wanting more.
In Harrison Mooney’s play with music, we are introduced to the world of the Stackhouse clan, a Canadian musical family where father Jack is so self-absorbed that he doesn’t give a second thought about outing his son on national television, and everyone seems to have a drug problem. Add a cancer-riddled mother, divorce and even hint of incest to the mix and you have the makings of a made-in-Canada soap opera.
But where its many threads and deliberate pulls at the heart could easily derail, it is held together by its terrific performances. Jeff Gladstone as the patriarch moves from charmingly arrogant to genuinely repentant and Alison Lynne Ward even manages to illicit tears as she brings the family together once again under the spectre of her own death. Steven Greenfield is convincing as son Julian who must come to terms with his sexuality and Shantini Klaassen hits all the right notes as the daughter. Christopher King rounds out the cast with a variety of roles including a hilarious turn as an obsessed fan.
What makes this cast even more amazing to watch is that they not only prove themselves to be fine actors, they are also accomplished singers and musicians. Bryan Binnema’s original songs are skillfully performed, with none more so than the beautiful “Be At Home in Me” with its wonderful harmonies.
With so much more to explore with the Stackhouse Family Band, perhaps The Chariot Cities will eventually find its real home on the CBC, and not confined to 75 minutes at the Fringe.
The Chariot Cities written by Harrison Mooney with music by Bryan Binnema. Playing at the Revue Stage (1601 Johnston St, Granville Island) as part of the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for tickets and showtimes.