A little bit under the Weather

By Robert Bright

The state of the human mind is as changeable and unpredictable as the

Weather, written by Frank Moher and directed by D. Michael Dobbin, is
a humorous and insightful look at living with mental illness. It addresses
issues such as medication, homelessness and government involvement, while
maintaining a feeling of hope for the future.

The play centres around the lives of six characters. Peter (Kent Staines)
is an architect designing a halfway house for patients recovering from schizophrenia,
primarily because his son, Chris (Kevin Kruchkywich) suffers from the illness.
Chris’ mother Elizabeth (Maureen Thomas) is also involved in the project,
and is desperately trying to create a normal life for her son, and by extension,
herself. To complicate matters, Chris’ friend Tara (Tara Hughes) who also
suffers from schizophrenia, is determined to remain with him.

Rounding out the cast is Yvonne (Nicola Lipman), a former psychiatrist
who doesn’t believe mentally ill patients should be treated with medication,
and Drew (Brian Marler), Peter’s lover, who has difficulty dealing with
Peter’s deteriorating mental state.

The lives of these six characters weave in complex webs. Insightful dialogue
marks every interaction, focusing on the issues of mental health, and on
living with and through mental illness.

Although the play is very well written and the cast excellent, the dialogue
occasionally felt forced and unreal. It was as if some of the actors had
not had enough rehearsal time to really become their characters. Tara Hughes
is exceptional in the role of Tara, never once leaving the audience in doubt
of the truth of her character. Kent Staines was often funny and moving,
bringing life to both the character of Peter and the story as a whole.

The minimalist stage is used very well, transforming enough for the viewer
to accept each change of scene. The score, composed by Allen Rae, adds depth
and emotion to the show, and is incredibly adept at setting the mood.

An excellent play about life and the little bit of craziness in all of
us, Weather is a must see part of Alberta Theatre Project’s festival.

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