Theatre Review: Get Away interpersonal delight

What would you do if you were living on the street? Unsheltered from winter’s blast, your thin emaciated body weak from malnutrition and fingers stiff with cold? Would you accept a middle-aged man’s offer of food and the warmth of his cabin at the edge of a dark mysterious wood?

Necessity will make even the most disturbing circumstances seem inviting. These are the circumstances setting the scene for Greg MacArthur’s dark and psychologically charged play Get Away, playing ATP’s playRites festival.

David is a middle-aged single man driven from society by an ambiguous epidemic that has permeated society. Attempting to escape this malaise, David sees an advertisement for a rental cabin advertising peace of mind-a remote getaway.

Henry and Garbo are a young transient couple surviving off the scraps of society. Whil the two wayward youths may be financially destitute, they still have a spring in their step and a song in their heart.

Necessity brings this motley group together as Henry and Garbo, requiring the most basic of necessities, put on an entertainment extravaganza of song and dance in the forest. David, longing for human intimacy is drawn to the show by Henry and Garbo’s youthful vitality and invites the couple to stay at his cabin.

MacArthur masterfully weaves a psychologically disturbing plot, revealing the innate utilitarian motivations and fissures in human relationships. The epidemic that drives David from society into the seclusion of the forest is ambiguous, but one aspect of this plague is the loneliness that results from the disconnect between individuals in society.

To illustrate this disconnect, the characters’ dialogue dances round the main issues avoiding deeply personal problems. Language is the way the characters interact, but it is shown to be unable to express the characters’ deepest needs.

It is this disparity between individuals and the longing for community giving Get Away its social relevancy. Our lives are becoming increasingly compact and sterilized. With the influx of people flocking to the big cities, people are more distant with each other, partly because relationships are mediated through technology. Get Away deals with the isolation felt in a city of millions. It deals with the uneasiness of being alone in a crowd.

This lack of human contact, coupled with the inability to communicate, sends David into a psychological tailspin as the growing tension drives characters to deeds they never thought themselves capable of.

If you’re a little overwhelmed by the mass of anonymous faces you pass in the hall, on the c-train or at work, perhaps it’s time for a remote getaway. You would be surprised what a warm cabin in the midst of a dark and brooding forest will do for your mental health. The line between sanity and madness may be more porous than you think.

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