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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Theatre review: This Is How We Got Here creates a delicate balance between humour and heartache

This Is How We Got Here continues at The Firehall Arts Centre until April 28.

Anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one is bound to find comfort in Keith Barker’s award-winning This Is How We Got Here at the Firehall Theatre.

The play opens with an acknowledgement of their wooded surroundings by Paul and his best friend Jim, portrayed with skilful nuance by Gordon Patrick White and Darcey Johnson. Their good-natured banter soon erupts into anger as they navigate the first anniversary of the suicide death of Paul’s son Craig.

The men’s wives, Lucille and Liset, also struggle with emotional turmoil. Empathetically played by Tasha Faye Evans and Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen, who co-directs, their attempts to deal with their trauma may not be as volatile as those of their husbands, but they’re just as tragic.

Craig’s spirit haunts the action in the form of a fox that continually raids Liset’s vegetable garden. Liset uses the animal as a target for her wrath, whereas it provides a focus for Lucille’s guilt, grief and the compassion that she feels for her dead son.

Love is the common thread that binds each character as they ride the gamut of emotions that accompany grief, and all four actors play well off each other, carrying the audience along with them.

The narrative skips between memories, through time barriers and from anger, isolation and anguish to humour, love and forgiveness.

Kimira Reddy’s set design of rocks and suspended silver birch trunks easily transitions from the natural landscape of the woods to domestic scenes with the aid of simple but effective lighting by Rebekah Johnson.

The Firehall’s artistic producer, Donna Spencer, co-directs alongside Cooke Ravensbergen with sensitivity, intelligence, and respect for Barker’s finely crafted script. Together, they create a delicate balance between humour and heartache in this powerful presentation.

This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker. Directed by Donna Spencer & Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen. A Firehall Arts Centre production on stage at The Firehall (280 E Cordova St, Vancouver) until April 28. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.

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