Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Men in White

Playing at the Arts Club Granville Island until March 11, 2017

I did not think that I had read about this play before I went to see it, but as I sat there watching the action unfold it did seem somehow familiar. Maybe because we have been, every so often, the only spectators at a cricket match in Vancouver where all the players were Indians.

There is only one set on the thrust stage - the angle almost bisects the front row of seats - but two locations, one a changing room in a park in Vancouver, the other a chicken shop in a market in India. The action alternates between the two locations: 

"When Abdul’s cricket team decides to take action to end their losing streak, they talk of recruiting Abdul’s brother, Hasan, who is an expert at the sport. But bringing Hasan from India to Canada will take more than just a plane ticket, and not all members of the team agree with the high cost."    

I am not going to reveal any more of the plot than that. It is probably significant that when Laura Evely did her pre-show announcement, she said that people leaving during the second act would NOT be reseated. It is also important to know that by the time that happens you actually care about what happens to the characters on stage. The suspension of disbelief essential for any drama to work is complete: the play is absorbing even if sometimes the dialogue is a little hard to follow.

This is a new play, commissioned by the Arts Club and getting its premiere here, where half of the action is set. I did not know that Sir Donald Bradman was so impressed by the field at Stanley Park, though I had heard heard something similar about Nat Bailey stadium. I have also actually played cricket in BC - for Sidney. You do not have to know much about cricket to understand this play but you will understand a lot about Canada - and by the end of the play - what Indians think about us. Indians as in people from India, that is.

I was saddened to see so many rows of empty seats at the back of the house last night. This ought to be a sold out show. It deserves a bigger audience.    

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