Western Canada Theatre begins 2020 with an excellent show, one that makes a statement and isn’t afraid to show the prejudice that most immigrants face when coming to Canada.
As audiences enter the theatre, they are greeted by a realistic curling rink, with fluorescent lights overhead and stark blue and yellow contrasting colours; exactly what you imagine a curling rink to be. The design is clever, as audiences will see in the second act, and I’m still not sure if there was actually ice on the stage or not as the actors convincingly slipped and slid around with ease.
Opening the play, the audience was met with common ‘racist’ jokes, such as comments on the characters’ skin tones (brown, black and yellow), and a common question from prejudiced people: “No, but where are you REALLY from?” Right off the bat, you were met with an uncomfortable feeling of how the older white male character, Stuart MacPhail (played by Guy Bannerman), treated and spoke to the other characters, who were only there to learn how to curl.
All the characters seemed to be based on racial stereotypes, but as the show progressed, you were met with glimpses into their lives which made them unique, as everyone is in this world. It was astonishing seeing how these characters grew, as the show took place over the span of a couple of months.
Fatima Al-Sayed (played by Parmida Vand) was a young Syrian refugee, who’s English slowly improved along with her curling skills. What I found so amazing was how they portrayed these subtle changes, and that at the beginning of the next show, they would be playing the same clumsy and confused character.
Charmaine Bailey (played by Jenni Burke) was a strong and empowering role model for immigrants who have been in Canada for a long time but are still prejudiced against, just because of how they look. The show played on Jamaican stereotypes for this character, but Burke displayed amazing compassion for all the other characters and reminded you of a loving role model.
Mike Chang (played by Richard Lam) and Anoopjeet Singh (played by Richard Young) both seemed to be generic stereotypes. Chang was an aspiring doctor and Singh was a hardworking employee of the popular franchise, Tim Hortons. Again, both these prejudices were balanced by their unique personalities and substantial growth throughout the show.
All the actors did an amazing job of showing their subtle changes throughout the play, and how they eventually worked together as a team to promote acceptance. The play was extremely honest with how racist Bannerman’s character was, and the other character’s made sure he was aware of that. There was no beating around the bush in this scenario.
All the effects and transitions in the show were amazingly well-done and easily showed the passage of games that the aspiring curlers played as well as the montages of the characters learning the skills. The sound effects were cheery and perfectly blended with the tone of the play.
The show was a comedy with a message of acceptance, that I believe everyone in Kamloops can benefit from. It was an excellent choice by WCT and I highly recommend it as it will entertain as well as encourage conversation about these controversial topics.
The New Canadian Curling Club will be playing at the Sagebrush Theatre until February 1st, with shows beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Kamloops Live! Box Office, online or at their box office downtown.