The Play The Way

Ever wondered how "the rat race" will end? Will modern western civilization's hunt for self-gratification and power eventually destroy us? Have our personal pursuits for power and profit already damaged our personal relations with those we love? These questions (and more!) are brought up in the play The Way.

The Way is a play written and performed by BareBack Theater, a theater company that is comprised of six recent graduates of York University. The Way was original written for a short play festival at York and is currently part of this year's SummerWorks Festival. If you think that our capitalistic ideals have done damage to the world you'll be sure to enjoy the play, but if you are one of many that think that anyone who cares about the environment is a crazy leftist vegan then this play will provide you with something you'll probably ignore entirely.

The press release for the play stats that "The Way explores reactions to the urbanization and individualization of society as we move further and further away from human connection." The play undeniably does that. If you look at my previous postings on this blog than you'll know that I am sympathetic to this exploration, yet this made me wonder.

The way The Way is written though is somewhat abrasive. There is no room for your imagination or curiosity to wander when watching the play, as everything is spelled out for you. The playwrights criticize television for being an "idiot box" and degrade those who watch TV for regular passive entertainment; while the play they have written is passive entertainment that is meant to guide your thoughts equally as much as TV (granted when watching a play you can't change the channel). The use of subtle hints would've been more appreciated than blunt proclamations. That being said it is worth noting that the writers did an excellent job mocking news channels.

Since the writing doesn't leave room for a wide variety of messages to be interpreted it left me wondering if people who this play is directed at to influence (insert description of suburbanites/yuppies/Yorkdalers here) will get anything out of the play. How it is written leaves it wide open to be disregarded by SUV drivers and the like as being hippie propaganda - and having insulated that view they drive off just as ignorant as before. The audience is reminded again and again that rampant consumerism/individualism is bad and that we need to reconnect with ourselves so we don't screw ourselves over, but hearing this message so often it felt passe by curtain.

It must sound like I didn't like this play, that is not the case. I enjoyed it greatly and suggest all to see it. It's just that i think the fundamental failing of the play is the writing. The other aspects of the play make up for that.

The all around simplicity of the play is wonderful. Costumes are simple tank tops and cargo pants for the entire cast, which makes the constantly changing characters actually easier to understand. It also helps drive home the theme that we are not unique snowflakes, but more like worker bees all looking the same. The stage direction is also simple and easy to follow which makes for an enjoyable viewing.

Strong voices accompany the actors, and the acting itself is strong. Of course some actors were better than others. One can easily see that this a theater company that is incredibly comfortable with each other and that they can easily act as one cohesive unit.

Even the technical aspects of the play were well done. The lighting added emphasis to what the characters were talking about. Simplicity also shone through with the limited amount of props.

The Way can certainly use improvements on the writing side of things, but other than that it is a strong play with good acting.

The Way will be run for more times, for scheduling info check the SummerWorks schedule.

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