Vern Thiessen’s Vimyis the first show of the season for the local non-profit theatre organization Live Five, telling the story of a nurse tending four wounded Canadian soldiers recovering at a field hospital during the First World War. It is directed by Natasha Martina and stars many current and former U of S drama students.
While the play is built around the themes, symbols and actions of the First World War, it is not a play explicitly about war. Instead it is a character study that weaves the characters’ present states with flashbacks showing how they were injured. Thiessen doesn’t intend the play as a statement or critique, but merely wants the audience to understand the characters and their circumstances.
Vimy is well-written and its narrative successfully balances the present action with flashbacks. The characters evoke our sympathy as their pasts are slowly revealed during the play’s two-hour duration. Martina did an excellent job directing the actors, helping them to present a raw and viscerally emotional state. Stephen Wade’s set is simple but effective.
The acting in particular is incredible. Nathan Howe and Arron Naytowhow manage to bring a wealth of both humour and sadness to their characters J.P. and Mike. Anthony MacMahon is particularly affecting as Sid, a recently blinded solider who is now unsure of his future. Ed Mendez is quietly charming. As Nova Scotian nurse Clare, Lauren Holfeuer is wonderfully tragic in how she deals not only with the patients but also in the unresolved matter of her missing beau, Laurie, played in a brief but wonderful performance by Andrew Taylor.
Vimy is quite the kickoff to Live Five’s season. The play is engaging, balances both humour and drama, and has a haunting presence throughout. It goes by quickly and is over before you know it.
Vimy is a wonderful way to spend an evening around this Remembrance Day.
Photo: Live Five/Facebook