Set in the years of near-conflict after WWII through the early 1960s, Michael Hollingsworth’s play The Cold War is an entertaining commentary on what it means to be Canadian — past and present.
Presented by SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts theatre department, The Cold War tells the story of Canada’s tumultuous political history alongside tales of struggle from its female citizen Mary Muffet, who has been pushed out of the workforce and back into the home.
Although its topics are serious, The Cold War is sure to be a historical romp, energetic and detailed, typical of Hollingsworth’s style. Not only for those passionate about history, theatre, and feminism, it appeals to anyone looking for a new and refreshing performance to see in downtown Vancouver as winter trudges on.
A cast of 11 SFU theatre students play over 70 characters in this fast-paced production. June Fukumura (previously seen in Women of Troy and Donut Holes in Space), plays Mary Muffet, a modern working woman who loses her job at a munitions factory and is forced into being a homemaker. Fukumura encourages audiences to enjoy the intricate story lines.
Much of Canada’s history is either unknown, or underappreciated.
Kiki Al Rahmani (previously seen in Women of Troy and Picnic), who plays Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, lends to the historical side of this play. When studying her character, she realized how fascinating Canadian history can be.
Movements that are still ongoing struggles today, such as gender equality and First Nation’s rights, were advancing by leaps and bounds during this time period — with the help of PM Diefenbaker. According to Rahmani, much of Canada’s history is either unknown, or underappreciated and this play brings this history to a place that is both accessible to the public and highly compelling.
Assistant director Sarah Faye Bernstein (from the Jamie and Sarah Experience Project) spoke about the inspiring work of director D. D. Kugler. Not only a professor at SFU, Kugler is also a freelance director and dramaturg who has worked throughout Canada. He is most known for his adaptation of Newhouse and his play Not Wanted on the Voyage, both written with Richard Rose. Bernstein describes how watching him work is truly an experience in itself, as his eye for detail makes the play what it is.
If the historical aspect of The Cold War doesn’t spark the imagination, then the satirical dark humour and big, bold costumes and props promise memorable entertainment. From a Russian Mata Hari-esque spy, to television-obsessed children, hilarious characters will rule the stage, causing all kinds of trouble.
The Cold War addresses intriguing subjects, from blackmail and espionage and the rise of the “bigger is better” mentality, to the fear of nuclear attack. Hollingsworth’s typical “big” aesthetic is prevalent in the exaggerated costumes and props, and is in contrast to the contained blocking and staging.
So, if you find yourself with a hankering for something refreshing and new, SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts theatre department promises a fabulously good time.
The Cold War is playing at the Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre from Feb. 19 to 22, and from Feb. 25 to March 1. Shows at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $15 for general admission.