IN REVIEW: DECK controversy ends with a great show
By: Rosemary Phillips, contributor
A review of: DECK Or How I Instigated Then Overcame An Existential Crisis Through Home Improvement”, an absolutely brilliant and totally hilarious one-person comedic play written and performed by Lucas Myers of Nelson, BC.
But first a little background. The need for community involvement began with censorship by certain members of the Grand Forks (BC) community in response to the mention of ‘partial nudity’ and ‘not suitable for children’ in promotional materials.
This led to titter-titters from some of the senior population, and a slap on the wrist from local School District 51. The school district has absolutely no policy for dealing with such matters like censorship and freedom of expression – and so the decision was left to one solitary staffer who censored the play and stated it was inappropriate for the Grand Forks District Secondary School Centennial Auditorium, a community theatre supported by various local groups and businesses.
Instead of challenging the school district, the Boundary District Arts Council (BDAC) found another venue – and a fantastic one – the Gem Theatre, right downtown! Originally built in 1910, the Gem still has wonderful acoustics and sightlines, and while it may be a renovated, funky and full-of-character old building, the movie theatre it has become has up-to-date sound and digital projectors. Owners Marius and Maureen Paquet provide an intimate, friendly and often creative atmosphere – and serve popcorn with REAL butter!
However, in spite of all these wonderful benefits, the Gem has a drawback; there isn’t a stage, just a raked floor. Members of BDAC solicited help and under the direction of Ted Invictus (technical and lighting director and stage manager) they built a deck (stage) to stage DECK. And talk about a community event: risers were loaned by the Boundary Musical Theatre Society and Rivers’ Edge Theatre Society (which also provided space for construction, painting and storage); lumber came from Andy Shione of Boundary Home Building Centre; tools were contributed by Mike Elliot of Kettle River Canoes; lighting came from Len Harasemow’s barn; trucking was provided by Jeremy and Bob Devries of Jerseyland Organics; Larry Hudema, Russel Smith, Tom Scheitel, William Caley and Rod Korolek took on the role of carpenters; and sound was provided by Zak Eburne.
With just hours to go before show-time more volunteers came forward to help. Yes, it was a real community event! There were door prizes, a costume contest (I won for female construction costume – just barely made it into my old overalls, and had many of my tools with me), awesome refreshments (like strawberry shortcake and nibblies, wine and beer) and of course the popcorn. So the excitement was high even before Lucas Myers stepped onto the stage.
Michele Garrison, president of BDAC, helped seat the audience, then Anya Soroka introduced the evening while Ted Invictus stepped up to give acknowledgements and gratitude to all those who contributed to make the production possible.
The Play – DECK
Lights to black, then up again as out came Lucas as Cliv (not Clive or Cliff but CLIV), an incompetent pink-slipped day-trader with a half-million dollar credit card debt leading to bankruptcy, a sixteen year-old forever-texting daughter and a twelve-year-old son who through his computer has the inside track on just about anything. The answer? “Goodbye Rat Race, Hello Garden” – in BC’s interior – with a new start as a small town, eco-conscious, back-to-the-lander. Cliv meets a smooth-operating realtor who talks him into buying a dilapidated house. On the first official visit his son falls through the front deck. Action to be taken? Build a new deck.
And so begins the hilarity as Lucas flips from one character to another in split-second timing, from Cliv to son, to daughter, realtor, neighbours, and finally Corey, the unemployed carpenter who comes to the rescue with power tools, talent and a world of free-wheeling, free-living.
While characters flash in and out, the audience is treated to a delicious script ripe with humour aimed at so many aspects of our life in BC, humour that is particularly tasty to those of us who are living in the country after running away from the city to try our own hand at ‘doing’.
But the humour doesn’t stop there. Lucas examines the fine line between perfectionism and obsession, chaos and freedom and why a piece of 2×6 lumber isn’t really two inches by six inches. Not even close. He pokes fun at technological, spiritual and social behaviours.
The play is timeless. It has meaning and plenty of hilarious self-reflection for Zoomers, Boomers, fifty-somethings, forty-somethings, thirty-somethings and twenty-somethings, parents and even teenagers! The jokes are non-stop as they roll out through character and action.
And so there is the odd swear word, no different from my own every-day vocabulary. And the ‘partial nudity’? I was laughing so much my eyes were teared up and my vision was blurred. Well, if you’ve lived this long and not seen a bare bum… It was timely, critical to the plot, and perfect. Ahuh! You’ll have to see the play to find out why and when – I’ll not give it away here. (Yes, the censorship was OMG SOOO SILLY – I’m trying to imitate the 16-year-old daughter here.)
Every character and scene is timely. Lucas knows how to win over an audience, not just with the ‘play’ but with audience involvement as he invites audience members to literally build the deck with power drills. (I figured that after winning the prize for female costume I should go up but I’d had two glasses of wine and couldn’t see through the laughter tears and would have been a real hazard with a power drill. So I wisely stayed in my seat while a competent team of ‘guys’ and one ‘gal’ drilled the platform together.)
Throughout and as a result of the parental-and-everything incompetence of his leading character Cliv, Lucas presents a beautiful message – “That will do!”
About Lucas Myers
Lucas is a graduate of the National Theatre School. He is a professional actor and playwright. After performing and composing music for original plays for a few years, in 2001 he decided to study with the SITI Company of New York and returned to Victoria BC to apply his new skills. Then, with the birth of his first child in 2006 he and his family moved to Nelson, BC where they bought a fixer-upper house. The first thing that needed attention was the deck. And so the play DECK. When we sat chatting at a reception after the performance, Lucas mentioned he has a few more plays coming up. You see, he needed to repair the ROOF… Need I say more?
Lucas Myers is a playwright to watch for. His humour is brilliant with a depth that goes to many levels. He is astute, sensitive and aware of global and local issues; he is multi-facetted and can handle just about any subject. In addition, he is one of those actors who when walking on stage commands your full attention. He is an advocate for LIVE theatre and reaches out to different audiences, particularly those who would not normally go to theatre.
Next time Lucas Myers comes to town – check him out. You’ll not regret it. Your spirits will be lifted, your cheeks may ache from laughter – and who knows – you might undergo a life-altering experience and overcome an existential crisis!
Links to more information
For more information about DECK, Lucas Myers and his upcoming plays visit www.pilotcopilot.com.