Brandon Lorimer’s beautifully polished new play Noun, which plays until September 11th at the Atlantic Fringe Festival is, aptly, an exploration of language, and a quest of one young man’s attempt to find the meaning and reconstruct the history of a lost civilization from an assortment of stuff that remains in a Post-Apocalyptical World.
It is also a beautifully told story of the relationship between two vagrants (akin, in their way to the tramps in Godot), the innocent and exuberant A (Lorimer) and the more worldly and cautious B (Jeff O’Hara) as they cobble together enough for their bodies and souls to survive, while warding off the impending Troubles that threaten everyone. O’Hara and Lorimer have created two charming, intricate, quirky characters who are easy for the audience to love and care about and their joyful sense of fun is infectious. Lorimer’s playfulness of language is both creative and smart. It seems as though A and B have learned to speak English from both reading an eclectic array of old books, written in different Eras in History, and then also developed their own, often more literal, way of describing their own experiences. A’s obsession with learning what Gil Scott Heron’s Small Talk at 125th and Lenox “means” and how this grates on B’s nerves, raises questions about how we seek to learn from the past, and the limitations we face in looking back on a time that we might never understand. Do we respect our limitations and allow these artefacts to be forgotten, or do we take the risk of being “wrong” in attempt to learn something and preserve the legacy of those who have come before us?
Everything that happens onstage between A and B is beautifully constructed and very clearly presented. I liked having The Troubles as a vague, menacing, looming threat, but as the interaction between B and the Vendor became more defined at the end of the play things got a bit more unclear for me. There’s room here for Lorimer to clarify this relationship a bit. I don’t think the Vendor’s presence at the end is essential to the play, but I did enjoy her creepy and poetic performance, so I think there is likely a way to make her being there a more clearly necessary aspect of the resolution of the play.
Noun travels quickly through about a month’s worth of time and Director Annie Valentina does a beautiful job of making these transitions clear and artful. Lorimer’s sound design is also beautifully evocative of both A and B’s world and ours.
Noun is the most exciting new play I’ve seen come out of young playwright in Halifax for a long time. I hope to see another incarnation of it and soon.
Noun plays at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) at the following times:
Mon Sept 5th, 3:10PM
Sat Sept 10th, 8:00PM & 11:10PM
Sun Sept 11th, 11:30AM