The Survival of Pigeons as Studied by Human Lovers carries one of the longest play titles around. But then playwright Jon Lachlan Stewart never does anything in half measures.
Through Survival, Stewart, one of the new dynamic voices in the Capital Region, is looking at the optics of love, a fragile emotion that is here today, gone tomorrow.
In this two-hander, Anna and Alex move in together. He’s a laidback, university dropout who delivers packages. She’s a driven businesswoman. But in relationships, he moves quickly, she takes it slow.
They’ve just gone shopping for furniture. Anna wants to organize the nest as quickly as possible, whereas Alex sees no need to rush.
“They complement each other because they are so different, but they don’t understand each other, and it’s the small things that eventually get on each other’s nerves,” says director Vincent Forcier.
Roosting on their balcony are two cooing pigeons that turn into the perfect foil for the human lovers. Anna and Alex try to evict them by various means, but the pesky pigeons refuse to leave.
“You see the pigeons adapting to anything the humans do to send them away. But the humans can’t even adapt to each other. They’ve set up too many emotional roadblocks.”
Through the award winning Surreal SoReal Theatre, Forcier has partnered with Stewart on over a dozen projects. Their first shot at Survival nearly two years ago – with virtually no set – was staged at NextFest followed by a remount at the Edmonton Fringe.
This time around, Survival is a full-length production complete with all-white IKEA dĂ©cor, running at the Varscona Theatre, Dec. 1 to 10.
The remount brings back St. Albert’s Kyla Shinkewski as she reprises the starring role she originated.
Shinkewski, a 2011 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from the University of Alberta, has spent the last few months parlaying her talent across Canada. At the Fringe Festival, she performed in Zastrozzi before doing a reading at the Stripdown Fest.
The St. Albert Catholic High graduate just came back from Montreal where she starred in her first slasher film, Pinup Dolls on Ice, due for release on Netflix in the summer of 2012.
“I got axed in the back. I was the second last person to die,” she laughs.
Survivors is certainly easier to identify with, and the character of Anna is a bit of firecracker – much like Shinkewski.
“She wants to be the CEO of a company. All she thinks about is work. She fell in love, but part of it was that she wants an ideal family with an ideal job. She wants to appear successful and she is on the hunt for a husband,” Shinkewski says.
Finding the right combustible duo can be hit and miss. But when Forcier was shopping for the perfect Alex, Colin Matty, a national slam poetry competition winner, auditioned.
“He had the most real interpretation. When he read the lines, there was a poetic essence. When he read, I understood everything on a deeper emotional level and it captivated my attention,” Forcier says.
For Shinkewski, this is a very relatable story. After all who hasn’t floundered at love?
“In some ways the story is uplifting. You know the characters will go on and survive with other people. It’s heartfelt. It’s beautiful and it shows the audience how to relive love.”
The Survival of Pigeons as Studied by Human Lovers
Surreal SoReal Theatre
Runs from Dec. 1 to 10
10329 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $15. Call 780-429-2757 or visit www.tixonthesquare.ca