Presented by Greystone Theatre at the University of Saskatchewan, The Illusion is bound to leave audience members in awe from both the talent and magic it involves.
Directed by U of S professor and actress Pamela Haig Bartley and written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner, The Illusion is a play that contains themes of love, empathy, revenge and magic. It is an adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s seventeenth century play, L’Illusion Comique.
The play takes place in the mid-to-late 1600s and follows the story of a man named Pridamant, who has been estranged from his son for around 20 years. Overmany years, Pridamant has tried to reconnect with his son with no success, and now he feels hopeless, fearful and worried that he is at the end of his life.
As a last resort, he seeks out a sorceress in a cave who shows him visions of his son’s life from the past twenty years of absence. The visions are performed in an over-the-top theatrical style that will captivate the audience.
The Sheaf sat down with U of S students Jordie Richardson and Jonathon Pickrell to discuss the play and their contribution to it.
Richardson, who plays Pridamant, gave the Sheaf some insight on what his character is like.
“He has recently had a health scare and is attempting to reconnect with his estranged son before he passes away. He comes to the cave of the sorceress Alcandre — played by Nadia Mori — as a last ditch effort to locate his son, and the visions of the son that Alcandre shows him make up the bulk of the play,” Richardson said.
On top of being an actor in the production, Richardson is also the fight captain.
Every night, Richardson is in charge of running through the physical action with the actors to ensure they are performing it safely and correctly. He makes any adjustments to visible errors that could cause harm, which involves things such as inspecting blades used during the performances.
Although Richardson is the fight captain, the fight sequences were choreographed by Iain Rose, the fight director, who is responsible for sequencing skillful and visually pleasing movement as well as teaching the choreography to the actors — in this case, Connor Brousseau and Pickrell. Learning a fight scene takes daily rehearsals for about three weeks before it can be presented.
Opposite Richardson on-stage, Pickrell plays the rival of Pridamant.
“The play is a very well-done commentary on theatre and why audiences watch theatre. It’s a meta play because there’s a lot of references to the audience watching the play, and so there’s an aspect of fourth-wall-breaking. The audience is going to get a lot of fun out of it while also thinking of theatrical productions as a whole,” Pickrell said.
The Illusion will give a unique and worthwhile experience to its audience. Richardson and Pickrell encourage U of S students to see the play because it is a great way to gain a new perspective and experience of theatre while supporting the drama department at the U of S.
The individuals involved in this production have spent countless hours rehearsing and building the production, so that the audience will hopefully leave with an appreciation of the arts and what Greystone Theatre is capable of presenting.
“Students should see the play because it really has something in it for everybody, no matter their interest. We have scenes ranging from light-hearted slapstick comedy and clowning to emotional and heartbreaking, with some slight-of-hand magic and sword fighting thrown in for flavour,” Richardson said.
“You find yourself getting sucked into the illusion of it all,” Pickrell said.
The Illusion runs from Feb. 8 until Feb. 18, starting at 8 p.m. in the John Mitchell Building, with no showings on Sunday the 12. Tickets are $17 for students, $19 for seniors and $22 for adults and can be bought at the box office in the John Mitchell Building or at the door.
Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor