Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
The aftermath of atrocity
Where the Blood Mixes takes an unflinching look at a real Canadian horror story
It's one of those schools, certainly, that gives Where the Blood Mixes its real dramatic thrust, but only in terms of the aftermath, of the deep and bleak shadow that it's cast over survivors' everyday lives. To the credit of Kevin Loring's Governor General's Award-winning, unflinching script, we aren't given a lecture or figures or bodycounts to tells us what was wrong. Wisely, it gives us the people instead—damaged-beyond-fixing people—trying to carry on in the aftermath of atrocity.
It starts, I suppose, with a stereotype: we find Floyd (Lorne Cardinal) dozing off in a bar. It seems an endless routine: Floyd, his aptly-nicknamed friend Mooch (Craig Lauzon)—for whom "I'll chip in on the next round," is a personal mantra—and bartender George (Robert Benz) pass the time talking, gambling, drinking and debating who's gonna pay, occasionally facing the wrath of Mooch's girlfriend June (a fiery Michaela Washburn), whose money he frequently steals to supplement his drinking. When Floyd gets a letter from his long-estranged daughter Christine (Sera-Lys McArthur)—taken by the government when she was young and put into the foster system—it shines a light inwards, onto the ugly past, which starts to bubble up to the surface again.
A few gorgeous effects—a great bony fish swimming slowly through the air, a skeletal eagle—an engrossing rocky set and a haunting sound design (Cory Sincennes and Dave Clarke, respectively) sets the mood for the cast cast to begin revealing their character's burdens. Cardinal handles the script's shift from lighter humour to deeper horror admirably, revealing a depth of layers within a very familiar figure, though Lauzon's Mooch might be the most painful figure on the stage, once we start to piece together what's left of him. Washburn gives June her fiery force, one that's hidden her hurt behind survival determination and an iron-will, and McArthur manages to find some depth to her raised-in-the-city character, given she and barkeep George (a white guy) are pretty much the only ones sitting on massive trauma.
There is some flatness to its arc: we go from lighter first third to heavy latter parts with little transition, unpacking one big revelatory moment after another, but, still, this is a story that's been told too few times. Where the Blood Mixes is a look at the lingering effects of a very real, very Canadian horror story, one that's more often ignored than examined. And instead of preaching, it does us the courtesy of revealing how people try to bury deep hurt, and how that layered pain can manifest in everyday flaws and perpetual stuck-in-a-rut living. It's a show that very much deserves to be seen and to be understood.
Until Sun, Mar 3
(8 pm; Sunday matinee 2 pm)
Directed by Bradley Moss
Roxy Theatre, $14.50 – $29 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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