Presented by Rarely Pure Theatre in collaboration with Fraser Studios' 2015 Indie Theatre Season, playwright Scott Garland’s Half a League is both powerful yet uncertain. Perhaps this is the point?
The play is about three young brothers, Jim (Stephanie Carpanini), Sam (Katie Corbridge) and Peter (Mamito Kukwikila). These three young fellows overtake a garbage dump where each has a post to defend, a duty assigned, and their leader -- Peter -- to follow. Their adventures within this garbage dump are brought to halt, or rather a propelling, when a stranger named Billy (Nicholas Porteous) is discovered by Sam. Their defense has been ‘invaded.’ What are the boys to do now?
While the work is constructed through the children’s imaginative play, the production undoubtedly takes the form of a post-apocalyptic genre. Surrounded by garbage and whatever they could find, the world as we know it has come to an end. In doing this, the play searches for an alternative world -- a new means for human defense and organization. Whereas the intent is to feel like a child’s game, Alexander Offord’s direction and Garland’s writing pulls the audiences into an unthinkable possibility brought upon by climate change and capitalism. This becomes utterly symbolized through Jake Merritt’s scenic design: simple, dirty and effective.
Another interesting facet that the production offers is its performance of gender and masculinity. We view little boys pretending to act as grown men, moreover, as soldiers. They try to act tough, taking on dutiful roles to defend their post and the collective, but their gendered performance is both heightened and destructed with the arrival of Billy, a man with a gun. Through this, the production questions the making of manhood, seen especially through the spy book found within Billy’s encasement. Has their performance of masculinity failed? This is but one of the many questions this intelligently written production offers.
The production’s success is evident right from the beginning. With a precise start, the action continues and never becomes dry. The entire ensemble delivers strong, owning entirely to their work of games, performance and portrayal. If you have yet to acquaint yourself with indie theatre, I would certainly start with this.
Half a League runs until May 31 at Fraser Studios. For tickets, please visit www.fraserstudios.net.