James Boyer’s play Down For the Count comes to the Atlantic Fringe Festival from the Theatre Arts Guild’s Playwrights @ TAG Festival. It tells the story of three women in their sixties mourning the death of their friend Margaret. When Margaret leaves them her estate the friends are given the opportunity to create an adventure for themselves but find that they are not sure that they have the ambition and the courage to follow it through.
There are not enough plays with roles for women of this demographic, so it is exciting to see one being written that features three of them. I like that the play focuses on this life-changing opportunity for these women and I also like the dynamic of them having been friends for their entire lives. There was an ease among the three performers, Carolyn Boyer, Elaine Casey and Helen Goodwin, that gave a richness and a sense of history to their friendship.
I think Boyer’s play has a lot of potential and that it would benefit from having a more complex sense of conflict that makes each one of these women unable to come to a consensus on how to use their new inheritance, one that perhaps threatens the very core of this fifty year friendship. Boyer does a good job of characterizing Margaret and how she was a unique spirit, but beyond a few superficial differences, the other three ladies are written to be very much the same. They even speak for one another a lot, as though there is a binary between “Our” experience, “Our” life and Margaret’s experience and Margaret’s life. Yet, it will be even more compelling when there are four distinct experiences and lives and when they are continually in conflict with one another. It would also enrich the sense of friendship if Boyer wrote a little less exposition for the audience in his dialogue so that the way these women spoke to one another reflected how long they had known one another: their sense of intimacy with each other’s feelings, their past experiences, familial dynamics and even their innermost thoughts. This could also be used as a means for creating conflict, as it is often difficult to hide or make excuses when the people you are trying to convince know you better than you know yourself.
I would love to see James Boyer continue to work on this piece with this cast and I look forward to seeing a future incarnation.
Down For The Count plays at Plan B (2180 Gottingen Street) at the following times:
Friday, September 6th – 7:00-7:45 p.m.
Saturday, September 7th – 7:00 – 7:45 p.m.
Tickets are $10.00 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.