By Jeff Kubik
What if the unthinkable happened? What if Quebec separated and poutine ceased to be a domestic commodity? Where would we go for high-end comedy festivals? What would we do with the tonnes of surplus bilingual cereal boxes? How would we efficiently dispose of Celine Dion? Plan B.
Developed during the infamous separatist referendum of the mid- ’90s, Plan B was the Canadian government’s reluctant alternative to national unity. While Canada did not bid a teary farewell to the fleur-de-lis that time, in an as yet fictitious future conceived by actor/playwright Michael Healey the boardroom negotiations between the Canadian government and an independent Quebec form the backdrop for the newest Alberta Theatre Projects comedy titled, appropriately, Plan B.
"The play is actually about negotiations," says director Vanessa Porteus. "Though it’s rare for theatre to tackle these kinds of tough issues, we constantly find ourselves in, or involved with, negotiations. We’re an era of panel discussions, trade disputes and treaty negotiation, so a play about negotiations is incredibly relevant because it’s a mirror of the personal side of these proceedings."
Keeping with the bilingual nature of our precarious confederation, Plan B includes english subtitles to help the audience follow the often heated exchanges. Despite the political subject matter and bilingual curses, Porteus assures audiences the play is still accessible.
"It’s a rock ‘n’ roll script," she says. "This is not safe theatre. It’s ballsy, aggressive and I think that this cast really reflects the edge of this story. We’re privileged to have Michael Healey as an actor in this production and his work is certainly not to be missed."
"Canadian politics made interesting, eh?" Experience has taught me that you as the reader are skeptical. Dispel your cynicism.
"You won’t learn anything for your Poli Sci course," cautions Porteus. "But I think you’ll find that you don’t know how much you care until you’re confronted by these issues. I’m a pretty cynical person and, even though the play’s not sentimental, I found that it really makes you give a shit."
"Vive le Quebec libre?" We’ll see.
Plan B runs until Sat., Sept. 27 at the Martha Cohen Theatre. For tickets or information call 294-7402.