Theatre review: The Great War from an explosive Aboriginal perspective

Redpatch

When: To Mar. 31

Where: BMO Theatre Centre

Tickets & Info: From $29 at artsclub.com

One of the most common tropes of Canadian history is the idea that Canada “came of age” amid the mud and blood of Ypres, Vimy Ridge and other iconic First World War battlefields. In this telling, the success of Canadian fighters was a rite of passage that enabled the young country to achieve a kind of manhood independent of Mother Britain.

The title of Raes Calvert and Sean Harris Oliver’s Redpatch refers to the patch those soldiers wore on their uniform to identify them as Canadians. It also suggests the racial identity of Half-Blood, a.k.a. Woodrow, a British Columbian Métis whose coming of age story the play tells.

Directed by Oliver and starring Calvert as Half-Blood, this remount by the Arts Club of Hardline Productions’ 2017 staging sharpens the focus on the central character while maintaining the original’s powerful stagecraft. Problems with structure and rhythm remain, but Redpatch proves a compelling portrait of Aboriginal experience in the Great War.

Odessa Shuquaya anchors the all-Indigenous, partly cross-gendered cast as Half-Blood’s grandmother as well as his English-accented platoon sergeant and Raven the trickster. Joel Montgrand plays Half-Blood’s childhood friend Jonathon, who will join him in the trenches.

His platoon mates represent a cross-section of Canadians: Quebecois Bam-Bam (Jenny Daigle), gentle Ontarian “Doc” Howard (Taran Kootenhayoo) and racist, aggressive Dickie (Chelsea Rose) from Winnipeg.

Raes Calvert (centre) is featured in the Arts Club’s remount of Redpatch, which runs through March 31 at the BMO Theatre Centre. Photo courtesy of Ian Jackson. [PNG Merlin Archive]

” data-medium-file=”https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=640?w=300″ data-large-file=”https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=640?w=640″ src=”https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=640″ alt=”” srcset=”https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=640 640w, https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=150 150w, https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg?w=300 300w, https://postmediavancouversun2.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/redpatch-1322.jpg 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px”>

Raes Calvert (centre) is featured in the Arts Club’s remount of Redpatch, which runs through March 31 at the BMO Theatre Centre. Photo courtesy of Ian Jackson.

The play cuts back and forth between Half-Blood’s agonies on the battlefield and young manhood at home, where Jonathon goads him with taunts of cowardice and promises they will become great warriors together. Grandmother regales Half-Blood with First Nations stories and urges him not to enlist.

An episode involving a canoe and a killer whale will be crucial to his psychological development and disintegration.

Half-Blood’s “Indian” skills make him remarkably efficient in combat. Not just a sharpshooter, he can silently cross no man’s land at night and pummel Germans to death with his trench shovel. He puts notches in the

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

      

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *