“Bone Cage”: Hart House’s environmentalist opening work Reply

Review by Michael PiscitellireviewerMichael P

              Bone cage is a story of an alcoholic forestry worker, Jamie portrayed by Nathan Bitton, who is regularly tormented by the fact that he is trapped in his dead-end town, and dead-end job, with no means of escape from the brutality and cruelty done to nature daily by his own hand.  Throughout the play we meet his dysfunctional and broken family that all have their own cages of grief, anger, revenge, and broken heartedness that all of them must live with.

the protagonists of 'BONE CAGE'

the protagonists of ‘BONE CAGE’

All of this culminates in the wedding of Jamie and his fiancée Krista that goes less than well. Unfortunately, it is an environmental piece that should have stayed in the woods.
When one first enters the theatre visitors are given a taste of the history behind Hart House with their rather detailed display of past shows and how the company came to be. We are given a program plus a cute little scroll containing a poem about love from the soon-to-be couple. I had completely forgotten it until after the show; when on looking into my bag, found it -still unread. This writer would have preferred being given a copy of the other poem (Bird Cage) that was recited, which had more of a relevance to the play than the one about love. [*See below]
The show itself had a few pacing issues that made it seem a lot longer than it should have been, clocking in at about two hours fifteen minutes. Not bad, but not great. Being a character-driven show, I will honestly say it is not my cup of tea. However, if you see such a show, characters need to be well fleshed-out showing multiple layers and dimensions. Bone Cage sadly does not do as well as it could have been. Layne Coleman, who plays Clarence, the detached grief-stricken father of Jamie and Chicky (Samantha Coyle), was one of the saving graces whose performance was top notch and let people feel some form of pathos towards Coleman’s character.
The set is a rather clever use of scattered upright logs and a taller dock-like platform that demonstrates the destruction of the foresting industry as well as creating the spaces of a home and a dock without moving a single set piece. Set designer Elizabeth Kantor makes clever use of the space and makes the logs into more than just logs. Her work with lighting designer David DeGrow creates definitive spaces that make one imagine we’re observing their broken home; or the scummy riverside.
Being a theatre student still earning his degree in Theatre Production and Design, I like to think that I have enough of a grasp to be able to formulate an opinion on most theatre works that will surpass a “that was bad, don’t go” or “that was good, see it”. Hopefully, readers will still go to a show and make their own opinion. Expressed reviews should simply reflect the criticisms; experiences and informed judgment of what was seen. My intent is to be an advocate & to encourage people to see a show- good review or not. Thus, becoming more cultured and certainly flourish with new understanding.

*“Bird Cage” (poemhttp://circumstanceandmagic.blogspot.ca/2011/04/cage-doiseau-bird-age-je-suis-une-cage.html

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