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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Leisure suits you

DMV Co-op's new production The Leisure Society reflects our quest for happiness.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 2:02 AM

One step into Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen) for the media call of DMV Co-op’s new production and you know this ain’t granny’s church theatre. Actors Brian Heighton, Samantha Wilson and Kate Lavender sit around a table littered with empty wine bottles and ashtrays, along with a shirtless Anthony Black, who is obviously losing this little game of strip poker. Then director **Pamela Halstead** calls for the next scene, which she refers to in shorthand as “floating and fucking.” Lavender falls back into Black’s arms, sloppily clinging to her wine glass.

The Leisure Society is about a “still happy” married couple (Wilson and Black), who plan on adopting a Chinese infant girl, with dreams of her becoming a virtuoso pianist---a baby grand sits at the back of the theatre. They invite over their divorced friend (Heighton) for dinner, who brings along his new, young friend (Lavender), and, as you can guess, the evening strays from its innocent intentions.

Halstead first saw the English version of Quebec playwright François Archambault’s play in Calgary, where she spoke to translator Bobby Theodore about how much it affected and disturbed him. As artistic producer of Ship’s Company Theatre, Halstead knew the content would “scandalize” their more-conservative audiences, but saw it as a perfect follow-up to DMV’s 2007 Merritt Award-winning How I learned to Drive. The director sees The Leisure Society’s story as a statement about society and where we are now. “Here’s this upwardly mobile couple----it’s buy, buy, buy,” says Halstead. “The perfect life, the perfect neighbourhood, the perfect husband, the perfect baby. Here’s the list, and you can check it all off and you’re still not happy. What are you missing?” Although she’s an artist with a limited income, Halstead says she can still relate to The Leisure Society’s theme of “Is there something more? When do you feel that’s enough?” and expects that audiences will feel empathy towards these characters even if their behaviour is less than saintly. And because there is no stage proper---rows of audience chairs are lined up diagonally on the periphery of a set area marked by a black-and-white striped floor---it’s as if you’re on the characters’ level, like a silent guest at the party.

Opening night is January 15 ($30), with shows on the 16th and 17th, then again on January 21-24 ($20-$15). All performances at 8pm. Reserve by calling 233-2284.

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