The Arts

CanStage – Morris Panych’s What Lies Before Us

by Paula Citron

Morris Panych is synonymous with high farce. His play What Lies Before Us is a departure because it is evenly balanced between outrageous one-liners and serious discussion.

Panych’s point of departure is the encampment of two surveyors for the Canadian Pacific Railway and their Chinese coolie somewhere in the Rockies. The 19th century set and costume design by Ken MacDonald and Robin Fisher is one of the most compelling recreations ever to grace a stage.

Matthew MacFadzean is the English snob-cum-twit, while David Storch is the Scottish pragmatist-cum-grouch. Wayne Sujo is the hapless Wing. All are superb under Jim Millan’s carefully detailed direction.

Amid the witty banter, racism, colonialism and a host of relevant-to-today topics get discussed as the men slide toward their grisly end – men whose bones Canada was built upon.

Wing gets the curtain speech, but you can ask the ushers for a translation. You’ll be shocked.

What Lies Before Us continues at Berkeley Street Theatre until Feb. 24.

From the Berkeley Street Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.

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