Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.
Death of the white male
God in her wisdom gives three naked guys the chance to repent
By Lori Montgomery
Middle Aged White Guys
written by Jane Martin, directed by Margaret Bard
March 17 April 4
Lunchbox Theatre is stirring up a whole lot more controversy than usual with their next production, Middle Aged White Guys.
"It's a play written by a mysterious woman named Jane Martin," says Bartley Bard, Artistic Director of Lunchbox. "I say mysterious because no one knows who the real Jane Martin is - that is not her real name." The author - or authors - of Keely and Du, seen recently at Alberta Theatre Projects, premieres almost all of her plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky, but that's virtually all anyone knows about her / him / them. Middle Aged White Guys is unlike the abortion play Keely and Du in both style and content, a fact which has fueled speculation that Martin is actually a group of playwrights rather than one person.
"This is one of her wild comedies," Bard says.
The play revolves around the three middle aged white guys of the title, Roy, Clem and Moon. In their youth, the three hotshots were in love with the same woman, R.V., who killed herself by driving off a cliff in a red Corvette Stingray. Twenty years later, they gather in the baseball diamond that saw their greatest youthful triumphs - now a garbage dump - to remember their lost friend and their lost youth. They are visited by R.V.'s ghost, who holds them responsible for the ills of mankind, and they are guided to salvation by the King of the White Men, Elvis Presley, played by Bartley Bard himself.
"People hear the title and think, 'Oh, this is going to be a feminist tract, a man-bashing play,' and it does make a lot of fun of men, but it also makes fun of women," says Margaret Bard, associate artistic director of Lunchbox and director of this play. "The women present themselves as victims."
While it calls attention to men's role in the disintegration of society, it also highlights the futility of placing all of the blame squarely on the shoulders of one group of people. Shawna Lori Burnett plays R.V., and says that her character ends up learning as much as any of the guys.
"One of the reasons she decides to come back and act as a messenger is that she died when she was 25 years old, and she's stuck with 25 years of knowledge," Burnett says. "She wants to know more."
Like Keely and Du, Middle Aged White Guys has its share of controversy, beginning with its representation of the God who sends R.V. and Elvis down to give the brothers a second chance.
"What makes this play hugely controversial is the fact that God, who sends Elvis down as a messenger, is female," Margaret Bard says.
"They call her The Celestial She, The Big Femina," Burnett intones.
Then, of course, there's the nudity. Yes, for those who thought nudity was the province of One Yellow Rabbit (as in their recent Doing Leonard Cohen), prepare to see it on the Lunchbox Theatre stage. It will be very tasteful, they insist, but necessary to the play. And besides, Margaret says, "We thought it would be good for Calgary to have a chance to see someone other than (OYR's) Michael Green with his clothes off!"
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