by Rebecca Ugolini
The Tin Can People presented by Diana Productions and the John Abbot College Department of Theatre and Music is a stunning production of Edward Bond’s play exploring the transformation of society and individuality after a nuclear apocalypse. Acclaimed for their presentation of The Tin Can People in the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival of 2011, John Abbot graduates, current students, and director Joan McBride treat Montreal to their visually arresting and acrobatic interpretation of the play.
Elation gives way to suspicion when a small group of nuclear holocaust survivors are joined several years after the bombing by a solitary man (Simon Fontaine) whose isolation has estranged him from society’s conventions. When members of the group begin to die, tensions rise as the group debates killing the new arrival, suspected of carrying a contagious disease.
The John Abbot students imbue characters’ dark dialogues and moments of insanity with equal realism, conveying the terror and brief moments of humour in Bond’s original script and transporting audience members into a world alien and yet not so alien form our own. The message of The Tin Can People is perfectly conveyed: one sure way to usher in a cultural apocalypse is to avoid discussion and thinking about themes of isolation, disaster and violence.
The John Abbot students take full advantage of their youth and athleticism as they carry out choreography by Lea Berry and Carol Hardwood and present mesmerizing fight scenes as well as subtler dance-like numbers with equal finesse.
It’s difficult to single out individual performances in such a large cast in which every gesture, leap, and facial expression is crucial to creating an overall atmosphere. Of special note are Simon Fontaine for his leaps and fearless fight scenes, Davide Chiazzese for his strong stage presence, Michael Nangreaves for his distinctive voice during narrative segments, Samantha Hodhod and Bailey Green for their mastery of comedy and dramatic moments, and Gabrielle Lubin for her skillful singing, showcased by the song which ends the show.
Donations of tin cans collected during the performances will benefit the Mile-End Mission.
It isn’t hard to see why this presentation of The Tin Can People is loved wherever it goes. Must see!