The Toxic Bus Incident
is part of OneLight Theatre's Civilian Project, a series of plays meant to examine how war affects "ordinary" people. Unfortunately, the characters in this play are not nearly ordinary or likeable enough to resonate with the audience. The play examines the disintegration of Helen, a middle-aged Vancouver woman (played by Pamela Halstead) and her family, after she becomes a victim of a supposed terrorist attack. But as written, Helen is a neurotic, self-centred hypochondriac and her mental breakdown seems to have very little to do with the attack. Her son and daughter are equally disagreeable, and her husband--a kind and loving man--seems only to enable her selfishness. All the actors are trapped on the stage for the entire hour and a half, and they freeze outside scenes they are not involved in. But even within scenes, the characters who are not speaking seem to freeze, giving most speeches the feeling of monologues. It's all very discomforting, but not in a particularly thought-provoking way.