Theatre Preview: Heart and soles not only for cool kids

By Janaki Jayanthan

If you were fortunate enough to be one of those popular grade school children, than you know what it’s like to be fought over. Maybe one friend offers a chance to hang on the coveted monkey bars or a brownie from their lunch, while the other children just wants to stay on those familiar swings on the outskirts of the playground. A similar adult dilemma, minus the playground equipment, lies at the core of Jaan Kolk’s tender comedy, Hearts and Soles currently playing at Lunchbox Theatre. Helming the play is stage manager and Lunchbox Theatre’s artistic director Johanne Deleeuw and she brings along years of experience.

The play initially introduces audiences to Carey (Trevor Rueger) and Paul (Robert Klein), a pair sharing a shoe repair shop and friendship. All is good for the two as they enjoy the simple pleasures of life like watching the hockey game and eating lunch together, but their worlds get turned upside down when the intellectually limited Carey get a bit lonely. He places a personal ad that Anna (Elinor Holt) eventually answers.

“[Carey] finds himself caught in a battle between Paul, his long-time friend and business partner and Anna, a young woman who comes into his life looking for an uncomplicated friendship,” describes Deleeuw of the play.

Although Carey is the one said to be intellectually and socially limited, Anna can also be perceived as having personal problems.

“She’s very socially awkward, and in some ways I think that she is as emotionally stunted, if not more so than Carey is,” says Elinor Holt regarding her character. As a 2004 Betty Mitchell Award winner, Holt welcomes the challenge.

But her character isn’t the only one suffering from awkward personal problems interrupting their relationships. Paul is also touched by his own social troubles.

“One gets the sense that both Paul and Anna have been wounded by previous adult relationships and are drawn to Carey for the simplistic way he sees the world,” explains Deleeuw. Through the play, audiences can see why Paul and Anna’s tug-of-war for Carey is created and necessary to each of his friends.

Despite the somewhat unstable backgrounds of the characters, audiences still feel connected to these characters. In particular, many people can relate to Anna, who questions her social stagnation.

“She’s finding herself at an age where she’s wondering why she doesn’t have a comfortable, meaningful friendship with anyone,” Holt explains. It is this mindset which eventually leads Anna to seek a friend in Carey.

Ultimately, maybe those popular kids weren’t so lucky after all. As Hearts and Soles shows us, choosing between friends doesn’t get any easier without the monkey bars. But with Lunchbox Theatre, they may get more interesting.

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