Review by: Gord Simmons
‘Here’ was an incredible piece of theatre that focuses primarily on a character (and characters) who is (are) working through things outside of their control that they feel prevent them from pursuing their dreams. A brilliantly poignant examination of those themes, and a really tight execution of a strong but simple script. They weave a few stories together in front of you, and their intersections are powerful, sometimes unexpected, but always executed seamlessly.
I’m already lightly familiar with director Aaron Jan’s work, and always excited to see what he’ll be working on next. This means I arrived with expectations of excellence…and was not disappointed: this piece continues his tradition of using well-executed movement to help bring an already exciting story to life. Heading up the choreography of that movement was Cassandra Bowerman, and I say she did an excellent job of incorporating movement that brought the story and the audience closer together.
I think it would have been far too easy for the dancing to overwhelm the story, but the elegance and occasional fragility that the dancers show only helps to bring us to the exact place where their emotions are occurring. In non-traditional review fashion, I’ll tell you first about our supporting players: Erica Charles and Farhang Ghajar. In moments where there are many things going on onstage, Erica’s Esther and the three characters we see from Farhang effectively add depth to the experiences of the main characters…never too much, never too little. The entire cast is amazing, but I especially wanted to draw attention to their genuine and precise characters.
Gregory Solomon’s Ken is made so very real for us. Ken is a young man with a dream centered on filmmaking…but most especially on a film that would include Heather (played by Jessie Cox). Ken’s character feels almost immediately familiar: that of single-minded artist who is pursuing a dream – sometimes to the detriment of his relationships with other characters. Heather is notably absent for much of the beginning of the play…which is the point of the plot, but perhaps makes it harder for us to appreciate what she has been going through when she returns later in the story…and ultimately leaves me reaching for a better understanding of Emily’s choice. (We’ll get to Emily quite soon) I don’t think any of that is Ms. Cox’s fault; I think the audience is supposed to feel disappointed in the decisions that Heather is making and the way they affect her friends.
It should be noted that Nick Tiringer’s video work also significantly helps in making Ken very real…the cinematography choices made feel very much like choices that Ken would have made while exploring his new pieces of video technology.
Jacqueline Byers, as Emily, is genuinely easy to connect with…but I must add a disclaimer: I also have been a dancer, and also have had to make life decisions around the inconvenience and frustration of injury to one leg. I’ll surmise though that my injury helps me connect with the character, but that Ms. Byers’ acting is possibly something I would naturally be more critical of: having been some aspects of the character she’s playing, I looked over her work very carefully…and found it flawless. I cried a little, and laughed a lot, and believe you will too. Get to seeing it at the Citadel while you still can!