History with a little entertainment

By Meera Thakrar

Northern expeditions, huskies, Inuit. Think it all sounds like a boring history lesson? Think again. Director Bob White’s adaptation of Two Words for Snow blends historical fact with social commentary and still manages to be highly entertaining.

Two Words for Snow depicts the dichotomous world of American colonialism in a vast Arctic land. Although the play is based on explorer Robert Edwin Peary’s search for the North Pole, playwright Richard Sanger goes far beyond the history books in his thoughtful presentation of both the adventure and the corruption behind the adventure. Grappling with such issues as racism and the greed for glory, some would say Sanger has taken on too much. Yet the characters are full of nuance and subtlety, a fact well portrayed by a talented cast of performers.

Nigel Shawn Williams gives a notable performance as Henson, who shifts from a high-spirited young explorer to a decrepit old security guard, meshing together the several memory flashbacks that make up the story.

One complaint about Two Words for Snow is the rather slow, confusing start to the first act. The flurry of activity and conversation between some characters in what appears to be a cold, stark, old museum does not immediately draw the viewer into the action. Nevertheless, as the tale of Peary’s adventures in the great north begins to unfold, the combination of a good story and a great cast captures the imagination.

Two Words for Snow plays at the Martha Cohen Theatre in the Centre for Performing Arts throughout the month of February.

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