Review – Timothy Findley’s The Wars by Theatre UBC

Review by Veronica Blott

Another great show by the UBC Department of Theatre and Film! Timothy Findley’s The Wars adapted by Dennis Garnhum is a harrowing piece about young Canadians partaking in a war they had no stake in and no true understanding of. Although many may be familiar with Findley’s epic work from high school English class the UBC productions department truly gave the audience a unique and palpable experience as we follow Robert Ross, a young Canadian man who enters the army in 1915, across the battle field. Opening with a burst of action as the stage is transformed into a train platform by lights, sound, and fog effects all at once, director Lois Anderson’s production is gripping right from the start. The talent of the BFA actors is also well showcased throughout this production as they are challenged to express complex and difficult emotions as they watch young soldiers lie injured and dying in packed infirmaries or monologue about their son fighting a ceaseless war.

The technical elements of this show were especially noteworthy as the cast created live sounds of horses trotting, intense thunder claps and bombs crashing down on the characters. This element of the production truly added to the spectacle of The Wars on stage and was one of the effects that made this show feel so dedicated. Intricacies of costuming and props,
namely the amazing effect of having horses embodied by actors, also added to the worldmaking on stage and gave the feeling that the audience was truly witnessing something special with this production. Another decision made by the production team that was striking was leaving an extent of backstage activity revealed to the audience as makeup tables, costume racks, and lights were all exposed behind the main action of the stage. Staying for the Q&A the team discussed their motivations for this choice as wanting to emphasize the fact that the actors in this show are roughly the same age as the men going off to war and the women working in infirmaries or brothels. Although the decision to expose backstage occasionally drew focus from the narrative of the show and is not a part of how the script is written, it was a very interesting creative choice that brings a different feel to a familiar story. Overall, the technical and acting foundations of this production made for a unique experience with the narrative of World War I and really displayed the capabilities and talents of everyone associated with the UBC Department of Theatre and Film.

Timothy Findley’s The Wars plays Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm at the “Freddy Wood Theatre” on UBC campus until November 23. TICKETS: Adults: $24.50. Seniors: $16.50. Students: $11.50, Youth: $5 VENUE: Frederic Wood Theatre, 6354 Crescent Rd. BOX OFFICE: 604.822.2678 or box.office@ubc.ca or www.ubctheatretickets.com

Don’t miss this great piece of Canadian theatre!

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