A play about a teenager using, dealing, and being addicted to marijuana has the potential to get preachy pretty quickly. Luckily for us -and also for the junior and senior high students seeing the play through to November 24 – Smokescreen doesn’t take that approach.
The play centres around Rayzee (Ntara Curry), a youth social worker and Jeff Dolin, each trying in their own way to help Trent Dolin (Jeff’s son, played by Mathew Hulshof) to address the issues that marijuana has brought into Trent’s life. What was refreshing about the play was that it wasn’t saying “you shouldn’t smoke marijuana because it’s bad,” instead taking the approach that he wouldn’t have been arrested if he didn’t possess marijuana, or that he would have more money if he wasn’t spending so much of it on “the herb”.
Troy O’Donnell, who we’re used to seeing at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, in the role of Jeff Dolin, the father, treaded the line between concerned and judge-y very well. This role would have been very easy to over-act, and thankfully O’Donnell let us see enough past his character’s manner of verbally attacking people to see the vulnerability behind a man who may be losing his son. The last scene of the play – which I won’t spoil for you by saying what happens – is absolutely breathtaking for audiences of all ages.
My only real complaint about the play was the pace of the dialogue. For me, there was too much rapid-fire dialogue, especially between Trent and Rayzee. While the actors both played their characters convincingly, I thought the speed of the dialogue was a bit unrealistic, but I suspect that’s a function of the play’s 53 minute run-time and needing to keep teenagers engaged with the play for the entire time. Were the piece written solely for an adult audience, I would have expected more pauses and more reluctance by Trent to speak with Rayzee. But then, this piece is meant to be performed for teenagers.
Smokescreen’s two remaining public performances are November 17 at 2:00 (pay-what-you-can) and 7:30. Tickets are $16 – $19.
– Jenna Marynowski