When the world becomes too much to handle, you can’t run, but you can hide.
In Can you see me yet?, the University of Calgary Drama Department’s season opener, relationships are studied as the characters seek refuge from reality: The refuge being a mental institution; the reality an increasing disorder abounding at the advent of the Second World War. This distinction between reality and fantasy becomes increasingly blurred with the introduction of a new patient, Cassandra, who tries to Þt into the existing group of inmates.
"She has this book of photos which she believes is her history," says Guy Bancroft of Cassandra. "She superimposes these images on the existing patients."
Bancroft’s character also has an interesting quirk. "He’s the mental patient who thinks he’s a dog," said Bancroft. "It’s a very interesting and commanding role."
While Can you see me yet?, by Canadian playwright Timothy Findley is a serious drama, it does include some comedic elements, especially in the role of Doberman.
"He’s not a dog out there looking for laughs, he’s just a guy being a dog," said Bancroft. "That’s where the humour comes out of it."
Dog behavior was a weird mentality for Bancroft to adopt. While not difficult, he did have to focus deeply on the mindset of the character.
"It’s easy to get into because you’re just a dog," he said. "But it’s hard to stay in that because you start to think more complex like a human and think, ‘Whoa, that person hates that person’ and then you’re like, ‘Oh no, I’m [just] a dog, la la la.’"
Good thing he got advice from the playwright himself. Bancroft, and others from the production, attended a reading by Findley earlier this year. The playwright suggested Bancroft remember that Doberman is not a dog, just a guy who thinks he is one.
Other characters retreat into a fantasy world as well, and to keep things straight, each character dresses differently depending on their mood.
"Each character has two costumes that signifies whether they are a patient or they are in this altered reality," Bancroft said.
This play is about group behaviour, and takes a significant look at relationships as well.
"It’s a getaway from the everyday, very in-depth and thoughtful," Bancroft explained. "It really looks at relationships and if you’re interested to see how a group dynamic works it takes a really good look at that."
Can you see me yet? opens in the University Theatre Oct. 27 and runs Wednesdays to Saturdays until
Nov. 6. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students.