jacob carey, maddy smith & clint chapdelaine

There have been many plays throughout theatre history that can be called “a love letter to the theatre” but Wildfire Theatre’s production of Johnelle Sciocchetti’s Backstage is the first I’ve encountered that could be described as “Hate Mail to the Theatre.”

Backstage at times seems to be meant as a cutting commentary on theatre in Halifax. Sciocchetti uses extreme stereotypes of the self obsessed theatre nerd, the older gay tragedian whose Broadway career has faded, and the egotistical diva to tell the story of a bunch of actors backstage during an Atlantic Fringe Show who feel sidelined and spend most of the play’s 50 minutes tearing each other apart. The challenge is that Backstage doesn’t accurately reflect the realities of our specific theatre community enough to be cleverly satirical, but there is not enough depth for it to be Realism. The result is that the actors are having a difficult time playing in a murky middle ground between the two.

Ruby Reed manages to give an honest performance as Autumn, who begins to doubt her talents when she feels left out of the community. Jordan Gracie has excellent command and presence as Gideon, the older actor living in the past. Sciocchetti has some funny lines and she does touch on some moments of truth, but I think Backstage would have benefited from her celebrating what is unique and specific about these characters as individuals and their theatre collective rooted unequivocally in this city rather than using the all the old mainstay “theatre people” clichés. The specific is always more ardent than the general.

TWISI Rating: 2 of 5

Backstage plays at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street) at the following times:

September 6
@ 8:30 PM

September 7
@ 8:30 PM

Tickets are $6.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm. 

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