May 21, 2024

In a play that illustrates the occasionally volatile relationship between law enforcement and the public, a Nanaimo theatre group will also demonstrate the fragility and relatability of everyday people.

Starting on April 12, four Western Edge Theatre actors will stage Joan MacLeod’s The Valley until April 21 at the OV Arts Centre.

Director Wendy Wearne said the story doesn’t explicitly outline one character as the ‘bad guy’ and will leave audiences wondering what happens at the end of the play.

The Victoria-based playwright wrote her dramatic 10th play as inspired by a true event in Vancouver that “shattered the public’s confidence in the police” – the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski during his arrest at the Vancouver airport in 2007.

The Valley follows the story of Connor (played by Daleal Monjazeb), a young man who has returned home from university after only a few months and is on the verge of a breakdown. During an incident with police officer Dan (played by Jon Greenway) at a Vancouver SkyTrain station, Connor’s jaw is broken. The incident creates issues not only for him and his mother Sharon (played by Lorna McLellan), but for Dan and his wife Janie (played by Stephanie Brossard). Whether officer Dan overstepped and did the wrong thing is never directly addressed in the play, but does allude to him dealing with public and media backlash following the incident.

“There’s a beautiful monologue that I execute about all of the terrible things that first responders have to deal with on a daily basis,” Greenway said. “The horrors that people frankly just don’t know about. He sheds some light on having to leave his family every day and go out into the world to put himself in harm’s way and potentially terrible and sad situations.”

Also the artistic director for the theatre group, Greenway said the season’s final production follows the thread of addressing mental health.

Wearne said she appreciates how the play illustrates that mental health issues can affect everyone.

“We all walk in the same footsteps as the characters and their struggles that can sometimes result in us going over a cliff … and sometimes we’re fortunate enough not to, depending on who we are, where we are and where we’ve come from,” the director said. “It really is every person’s story … Looking at the show as a whole is, ‘there by grace, go I.’”

The play touches on depression heading into potential schizophrenia, PTSD, the effects of pregnancy and postpartum, substance abuse and anxiety.

Since the audience doesn’t get to see what happens to the characters, the end of the play is left open to interpretation; however, they are aware the story is unfinished with another chapter – be it good, bad or simply “one foot in front of the other.”

The Valley will run at the OV Arts Centre on Victoria Rd. from April 12-20, showing at 7:30 p.m., and on April 21 showing at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.westernedge.org.

READ MORE: Drag queens go ‘on trial’ in Nanaimo in campy play about queer identity

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Daleal Monjazeb and Lorna McLellan during rehearsal of The Valley that will show at the OV Arts Centre April 12-21. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)


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