A mighty storm

It blows in on a mighty storm surge from Toronto to our Hamilton Fringe Festival and on to the stage of the Main Hall of 141 Park St. with Trashman’s Dilemma, written and perhaps directed by Bruce Gooch. Dear readers, this is handsome, polished theatre. You’ll see are the achingly grim costumes and effective make-up superbly designed and executed (Gooch again?). Add evocative and moody lighting, eery sound-scape, and flawless staging for a visually stunning hour of post-apocalyptic theatre. (Why no credits, people?).

Gooch tells of a mighty storm in some dystopian landscape and thrown up on its shore are two survivors from a world that once was and is no more. The space is guarded by a spectre, a paranoid spook with blood thirst, and it watches unseen the first survivor with a hungry expectation. He hopelessly lost, this mute arrival, and in plaintive struggle tries to articulate to his hostile environment but can’t seem to remember the most basic abstractions of language. With almost no place to hide, the entire space is oppressively small and the action is of insect-like scuttling and of fearful crouching.

Another human bit of flotsam struggles in, carrying a dead companion in a blanket shroud. He is all aggression and forceful speech. He is the main challenge to the oppressive confinement of the space. And so begins a strange journey for us. When everything civilized that has ever been known has met its Armageddon, whoever is left needs not only physical ruthlessness, but psychologically desperate measures to survive. And if this kind of theatre is to succeed at all, there must be somewhere in it some truth for us to grasp. But when nothing is true, what is to be done and what is there for us, the audience? Actors, of course, dear readers, skilled and resourceful and unrelentingly intelligent. Gooch’s text must be in the hands of such actors, and his need is more than splendidly satisfied with these three, Michael Adam Hogan, Eric Bleyendaal, and Andrei Preda. Each gives a thrillingly honest performance from a deep well of not only their relative youth, but of interior knowing of the truth they must convey from Gooch’s demanding text through their own determined revelation of it. They do not fail us. Come to see this remarkable piece of theatre, Festival goers, as we are so fortunate to have it in Hamilton this week. From this drama critic’s pen, full marks!

Tom Mackan

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