We saw Chris Grignard's The Orchard Drive last night at the Walterdale theatre, and we left very impressed with both the playwright and the actors in the play. Orchard Drive is a piece of historiographical metafiction (or, I suppose historiographical metadrama), loosely based on the experiences of the homosexual community in Kelowna. It centers around an incident in 1997 involving Kelowna's mayor, who refused to proclaim gay and lesbian pride day, thus embroiling the town in a bitter discrimination case.
The writing is good, and the dialogue is nearly flawless. Both Kirsten and I found ourselves drawn completely into the world of the play. The play centers around 4 gay men putting on a production of Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, or at least trying to. We, the audience, watch their final dress rehearsal, which occurs shortly after the Gray incident mentioned above and during a series of forest fires. The play moves quickly from the setup of the play within a play to an exploration of the relationships between the 4 men and how they deal with their inner demons. Chris also uses bit of The Cherry Orchard to further expound the relationships; he masterfully intertwines them into his play.
Chris has done a fantastic job introducing us to the characters and giving us a condensed but rich character sketch for each one: Gordon, grounded, but sick of living life in a small town (he has a wondeful monologue about the floating bridge); Harvey, at first secure in his self-image, but quickly shows his flaws (both emotionally and physically as his initial clean cut image quickly degrades and he makes connections between his childhood and current behaviour); Bouche, the not-so-stereotypical geek, just trying to keep everyone together and happy; and Bernard, who hasn't yet admitted to himself that he might be gay - but is clearly so. Of all the characters, Bouche was the most familiar; I saw many, many of my geek friends reflected in his character.
Although Grignard's writing is solid, the play would be nothing without its actors. Though I can't for the life of me remember any of their names, I have to commend them on a job well done. They have committed to their roles, and play their characters perfectly. Even though our audience was small (thursday night never being a particularly good night for big audiences), they gave us a solid, passionate performance.
There are only three more showings - tonight at 8, tomorrow at 2 and tomorrow at 8 at the Walterdale Theatre - so go see it. Even if you aren't particularly interested in gay rights and issues Grignard has created a compelling, character-driven story that will touch you and the actors play it perfectly.
Note: There is some mature content, which may offend more sensitive viewers. However, even if you fall into that "sensitive viewers" category, the rest of the play is more than worth seeing.