It was a windy, cold, and rainy Friday afternoon when a crowd of about 30 entered the Stokes Art Tent to watch a new play reading. The name of the play was The Angels, which featured four characters (not including the narrator). The play centered on two sisters, Diana and Rose, who tried to revive their dead father. In order to do so, they perform a ritual to summon what they think are two angels, Sam and Yuri. The ritual is successful, and Yuri and Sam appear. They do not, however, wish to revive the sisters’ father, as it goes against one of their many codes. Due to their refusal, Diana and Rose refuse to let the angels leave, a fact that Yuri begrudgingly agrees to and Sam viciously opposes.
Since it was just a reading, as opposed to an actual play, the script was very much on display, and it held up quite well. There was a remarkable balance between dramatic and comedic moments, and both earned appropriate crowd reactions. Some of the lines seemed a bit overwrought, but, overall, it was a fast-paced and enjoyable play.
The best performance during the reading was given by the actor playing the part of Sam, whose impassioned delivery of his lines was, at times, a real show-stopper. Even though it was just a read-through, he displayed a good range of emotions and tonal qualities, as well as strong and voracious physical hand gestures which effectively accented his lines. Rose also gave a riveting performance—her tragic descriptions of how much she loved her father were delivered with tasteful emotion.
The play functioned as a slow burn, but that was partly to its own benefit, as it engaged the audience in the fates of all the characters, commanding the majority of the attendees to stay attentive to the script for the read-through’s full runtime. In addition, the audience noticeably reacted to the main, climactic events, gasping and clapping, when appropriate.
The stage and design provided was minimal, but there still was a soft glow of backlighting, which set the mood well and gave an atmospheric surrounding to the chairs that were present as the sole props. The Stokes Art Tent made a fitting home for the performance, especially considering that the art on the walls heightened the sense of creativity and exploration during the event.
Contemporary Theatre’s New Play Showcase was a welcome celebration of an art form that rarely receives the amount of recognition it deserves in mainstream media and, more importantly, allowed new voices to break into show business. The writing on display, although entertaining without the effect of costume, set, or blocking, would make an excellent candidate for a full-fledged production. With the addition of these elements, The Angels could bring exciting new ideas to the forefront of the BC arts scene.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor