By Emily Senger
Most seniors will be offended by vulgar language, sexual innuendos, bare asses, violence, heavy-metal music, alcohol and drug abuse. The grandmas sitting behind me during the Sunday matinee performance of Ground Zero Theatre’s play Illegal Entry most certainly were. They even told the stage manager, “turn down that horrible rock and roll music”.
The sad reality is, as offensive as the aforementioned list may be, all of these aspects in combination are necessary and work brilliantly in unison to convincingly portray the juvenile delinquents in Ground Zero Theater’s newest play. From playwright and University of Calgary professor Clem Martini, and director Ducal Lang, Illegal Entry portrays juvies in a manner both hilarious and heartbreakingly realistic.
The play opens when three hooligans, escape from a group home. They are enticed by easy money to be obtained by breaking into a garage and from there, into the attached house, helping the group’s dreams of better things after fleeing to Vancouver.
The group’s leader, Garland (Nathan Pronyshyn), gets the boys into the garage, but carefully laid out plans are ruined when Jim (Phil Fulton) breaks the garage door opener and the trio becomes trapped inside.
All three actors paint a convincing picture of juvenile delinquents which provides the audience with some insight as to the motives behind their actions. The play becomes fascinating when the boys’ entirely different personalities interact: Garland the smart, sarcastic and rational ring leader; Jim, the highly irrational, violent and attention-craving follower and Stewart (Braden Griffiths), Garland’s intriguingly silent devotee.
Sexual abuse, hopelessness and violence may be heavy subject matter, but it’s balanced by often unexpected moments of genuine humor. Phil Fulton delivers an outstanding performance guaranteeing audience both laughs, while pitying him. I mean, how could someone not laugh at bright pink ass prints on the wall?
U of C student Braden Griffiths delivers a notably compelling performance in the role of the quiet and solitary Stewart. His silent willingness to blindly follow the leadership of Garland reveals to the audience there is more to Stewart than meets the eye. We, as the audience are left to ponder his history, until the horrific truth is later revealed. Griffiths has few lines, but delivers them poignantly and convincingly, allowing the audience to dually feel compassion for Stewart, while being horrified by his actions.
If you’re looking for a happy feel good play, forget about seeing Illegal Entry. There is no happy ending, hardly a resolution when the lights dim and the curtain comes down. It is just this lack of a traditional conclusion which lends the play so much power. The kids in this play are fucked-up young sex offenders who have suffered abuse on a level almost impossible to imagine. Reality states there is no happy ending for the characters. No quick fix will make everything turn out all right.
At times dark and depressing, Illegal Entry provides superb acting and directing, clever writing, and a play with the potential to make you laugh, cry and ponder life–all in a little over an hour’s time. Just don’t bring your grandma.