Review: Kayak, at Firehall until January 17

Firehall page:

There’s much to be said for novelty of placement and staging. “Kayak” opens with the lead character Annie Iverson (played by well-known actress Susan Hogan) sitting in a kayak, which is a definite change from the typical desk or table or bed. What is Annie doing in a kayak? She’s struggling, it seems, and she’s not happy with the situation. We quickly find out that Iverson is an unreliable narrator. She will go to great lengths to get what she wants. We, the audience, are fair game for manipulation, just like her son and husband and the son’s girlfriend. But what exactly is going on with Annie and the kayak?

Photo credit (Chena San Martin)

Photo credit (Chena San Martin)

Annie proceeds by flashbacks to tell us what has been going on with her son, and with the itinerant girlfriend that she so despises.

Julie (played by Marisa Smith) is a charming, earnest environmental protester who keeps trying and trying and traveling and traveling from one environmental disaster spot to another, even when it’s clear to her that it’s not doing much good. Peter is Annie’s son, and he is in love with this girl of which his mother so heartily disapproves. The fact that he follows a corporate lifestyle that his mother has enforced is a constant source of tension between him and Julie.

The play is full of humour. Environmental issues are brought up throughout, but the interplay among the characters ensures that the environmental message does not become tiresome.

The play touches on some important questions. Is every moment spent in enjoyment a betrayal of the urgency of the world’s environmental situation? Is it appropriate to “go easy” on loved ones who aren’t environmentally perfect? Does protest achieve anything? What obligations do children have to their parents when the children want to take on risky ventures? Is it OK to lie?

Playwright Jordan Hall has provided us a provocative, funny, and engaging play. See it and find out what your take is.

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