WHITEWASH By Robin Fulford, directed by Mark Cassidy (Platform 9). At Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). To March 9. Pwyc-$17. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN
Platform 9 Theatre’s mandate is to develop and produce provocative theatre that highlights social issues, and they do this with Robin Fulford’s Whitewash. But the play, which began life in a Grade 11 drama class, still feels like it’s intended for a young audience despite this expanded production and some coarse language.
The true story of Aboriginal protestor Anthony O’Brien “Dudley” George, who was shot and killed by an OPP officer in 1995 at Ipperwash Provincial Park, has made news headlines, and Fulford takes care to place the events in historical context.
That said, the script feels more like a re-enacted history lesson than a play. The story comes loaded with built-in drama, but there’s little dramatic tension, because the characters mostly narrate, telling us how they feel instead of showing us.
Several scenes begin with the announcement of a calendar date, which keeps the chronology clear and concise, but the verbose script offers up so many facts, names and dates that the actors trip over the politico-speak and flub numerous lines.All four actors undertake many roles, and some handle this better than others. Pamela Matthews succeeds best and gives a grounded performance, but the purpose of casting a woman as Dudley remains confounding. Paul Chaput and his resonant voice bring pride and gravity to his roles, especially in his final monologue as Dudley’s brother.Director Mike Cassidy makes excellent use of the space in the small theatre, even effectively utilizing the balcony. The bare-bones staging incorporates few props and costumes, but Shadowland Theatre’s painstakingly crafted political puppets (Mike Harris becomes a literal talking head) and artist Abe Kakepetum’s majestic black-and-white mural backdrop create a big impact. firstname.lastname@example.org