One of the newest productions in Saskatoon is Dying City, featuring local drama heroes and U of S alumni Heather Morrison and Aaron Hursh. The play is directed by the current head of the drama department, the talented Jim Guedo.
The play was originally produced for the stage in New York City and is written by the playwright Christopher Shinn, whose previous works include Four and Where Do We Live.
Dying City is a short, compact look into the lives of three people and the different ways in which violence permeates our lives in varying forms. And it is one hell of a rollercoaster.
“It’s the story of a woman named Kelly,” said Hursh, “a young therapist dealing with the grief of her husband recently dying in Iraq. She gets sideswiped by her husband’s identical twin brother who has an agenda of his own.”
Following the three characters in the span of 90 minutes, the play takes place over one night with some flashbacks of Kelly’s husband Craig before he went to war. The story is extremely volatile in its content and action, filled with a constant switch between the two brothers, both played by Hursh.
“It goes back and forth in time, so you get to see the husband as well as his brother,” said Hursh.
“Kelly experiences flashbacks from the night before her husband left. So you experience these three or four little pockets of what happened right before he left for Iraq.”
Be prepared to experience emotional ups and downs as well as some stealthy surprises as the play develops.
In addition to the revelations of the play, there will be some pretty magical costume changes and scene turnovers at break-neck speeds.
Hence the rollercoaster effect of the play as a whole.
“The play is very mysterious,” said Morrison. “As you watch it you realize that something is just not quite right and as it goes on you start to discover all these different things that are going on underneath. It’s a challenge for actors because you jump back and forth emotionally. You’ll do one scene and it’s completely explosive and volatile and then you will go off stage for 30 seconds and then you come back on in a totally different mindset.”
“And sometimes as a different person,” added Hursh.
Bringing the play to Saskatoon has been a considerably long process, beginning a year and a half ago when Hursh read the play after seeing it on a list of finalists on the Pulitzer Prize website.
“We’re going to miss this play,” said Morrison. “Every time we have a question about the script, you can actually find an answer in the play. There are no loose ends, the script is so tight.”
Don’t let yourself get too invested in a single character either, as you will find your alliance shifting from Kelly to Craig to Peter as the story rapidly unfolds.
Dying City runs at the Refinery Oct. 1 to 3 and 7 to 10.
image: Pete Yee