Reviewed by Paula Citron
Written by Vern Thiessen
Directed by Eric Coates
Featuring Mark Crawford, Sébastien David, Meegwun Fairbrother, Greg Gale, Gil Garratt and Tova Smith
Blyth Memorial Hall, Blyth ON
Jun. 21 to Aug. 7, 2011
Vern Thiessen’s powerful play Vimy premiered in 2007. The carefully detailed Blyth Festival production by artistic director Eric Coates pays loving homage to a great Canadian play.
Vimy is almost a stream of consciousness. Four Vimy survivors are in a hospital, looked after by a caring nurse. The scene keeps shifting from the men in the ward, to episodes in their past, to the nurse’s past, to the actual preparation for the battle of Vimy and its aftermath.
Gillian Gallow’s atmospheric set comprises of four beds with footlockers, overshadowed by tall shelves filled with stacks of white material that evoke images of bed sheets, bandages and shrouds.
The key is how Coates cleverly stages the constantly changing time frame within a frozen set. His cast is superb.
The 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge might be a defining moment in Canadian history, but Thiessen judiciously and provocatively mixes patriotism with the horror of war.
Vimy continues at the Blyth Festival until Aug. 6.