Tom Krushkowski and Markian Tarasiuk play best friends asking big questions in the Speakeasy Theatre production of 3..2..1. Photo by Ryan McDonald.
Tom Krushkowski and Markian Tarasiuk play best friends asking big questions in the Speakeasy Theatre production of 3..2..1. Photo by Ryan McDonald.

“I don’t want anything, man, but I’m still fucking disappointed.”

So encapsulates the Speakeasy Theatre production of Nathan Cuckow and Chris Craddock’s intense 3…2…1, an examination of how our perceived lot in life can become wholly consuming.

Lifelong friends Clint and Kyle skip their best friend’s funeral for a wake of their own. Fuelled by an “all-you-can-eat buffet” of booze and drugs, the two take us on a raw and sometimes violent examination of life.

But while 3…2…1 may be set in Wetaskiwin, Alberta (population 15,000), reality is this could be anywhere in Canada where friendships are put to the test, and dreams of something more can seem unattainable. Even as anyone growing up in a small town will immediately recognize the two men, 3…2…1 also holds universal truths inside its odd reality.  While heightened for dramatic effect, there is much in Cuckow and Craddock’s script that resonates outside rural Canada. What is the world like beyond our communities? Am I destined for greater things? Is this really all there is?

Tackling big themes within their small town confines, Cuckow and Craddock also explore a range of topics as their characters go off into their drug induced stupor. Life, love, friendship, and homophobia are explored in a fast-paced 75 minutes that is at times as depressing as it is funny. And while the playwrights give us a somewhat overused and predictable finale, there is such intensity from the performances from Markian Tarasiuk and Tom Krushkowski, under the direction of Kayvon Kelly, that makes it all worthwhile.

Perhaps it is Tarasiuk, Krushkowski, and Kelly’s real-life upbringing on the Prairies that helps keep the intensity grounded, and in making Clint and Kyle real. But as their sometimes testosterone-driven bravado gives way to philosophical musings on the three redneck elements of success – living comfortably, having the respect of your peers, and the love of a good woman – this is a treatise on what it means to be human, and less about where you live and your status in life. It is, at times, as uncomfortable as it is compelling.

One of our city’s newest independent theatre companies, Speakeasy Theatre is looking to build its audience by using a “pay-what-you-want” model for this production. Audiences are invited to pay what they feel the performance is worth after seeing the show. Not without its risks, based on opening night’s performance there is little doubt the model should work.

3…2…1 by Nathan Cuckow and Chris Craddock. Directed by Kayvon Kelly. A Speakeasy Theatre production. On stage at Studio 1398 (1398 Cartwright St, Granville Island) until November 8. Visit http://speakeasytheatre.ca to reserve your seat and more information.