If you want to survive in the Yukon then don’t dress like a doll. This is a lesson that Kate (Kate Corbett) learns early on. Stranded, with not a penny to her name, Whitehorse is not quite what she expects. When she is taken in by Yuko (Grace Lynn Kung) and her very reluctant roommate, Garin (Ryan Cunningham), all three of their worlds are bound to take a turn for the crazy. Dealing with his dying father (Francois Klanfer) and trying to uncover the mystery of his mother, Garin is not prepared to house this rebellious teenager, who jabbers on with offensive statements, eats his dinner and floods his toilet with vomit. But they all need each other. It’s inevitable.
Yukonstyle, written by Montreal playwright Sarah Berthiaume and directed by Ted Witzel, is running for the very first time in English at Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Street Theatre. This play tackles both macro and microcausmic issues faced by people residing in the Yukon. Set during the time of the Robert Pickton trials in 2007, this play does not only highlight integral issues dealing with the mistreatment of aboriginal peoples, but also brings forth the everyday struggle to survive life, moment to moment, during the most difficult, dark times.
The set design by Gillian Gallow, places spectators in the blizzard of Canada’s north. The set seems to directly mirror the characters lives – unbearably cold weather, barren land, ominous feelings and the desperate need to fill a void.
Yuko and Garin sing about not being the “kids sitting on the couch”, when that is precisely what they are forced to do – stay indoors as much as possible, listening to the horrors of the world around them and wanting to be able to change it, but not knowing how. Masking their problems with drugs and gin, the smell of smoke fills the theatre and you are transported to that couch with them – they are stuck and for the entire 95 minutes, so are you.
This play will make you feel something in a way that you will never expect. Somewhere between the anger, frustration, confusion and empathy, you will see yourself in these characters, struggling to do what’s right, not knowing what’s right and succumbing to the fact that you cannot fight your demons alone.
Yukonstyle is running at CanStage’s Berkeley Street Theatre until October 27. Ticket prices range from $22.00-$49.00 and can be purchased by phone at 416-368-3110 or at www.canadianstage.com. Note: If you are under 30, you are eligible to sign up online for $15.00 CanStage tickets.