Bone Cage, first published in 2007, is a tragic, yet appropriately humorous play written by the Nova Scotian born-and-raised author Catherine Banks. Her local upbringing inspires the setting of the play and the realism in the characters.
The story focuses on Jamie; a young man employed in the foresting industry, soon to be married and responsible for providing for his family. He is faced with an internal conflict: taking part in the destruction of the environment versus the necessity for income. Jamie often walks through the now-barren land and goes so far as to rescue the injured birds and animals whose habitat he has just destroyed.
As the stress and tension between characters increases so does the dramatic irony.
Regardless of knowing some finer details of each character’s story and perspective, can the audience even begin to guess how the story will end?
Brought to life by a group of student hobbyists, Bone Cage, is a production that the cast and crew should feel proud of.
When entering the transformed black box theatre that is “The Pit,” the immediate impression is influenced by the dynamic set design. Built from the ground-up by Nick Harrison, Chris Tully, Keely Olstad, Dan Halpern and Thomas Jestin; the sizeable set is one of the elements that gives the show a more professional feel. Many small details add to the realism of the setting, such as the rocks, graffiti, empty cans and “NO Diving” sign, which immediately draws the audience into the town before the show even begins.
The set consists of three main areas: the forest by the river, the bridge and the inside of Jamie’s house. The use of space demonstrates the director’s understanding of blocking and varied levels; thus, making the performance lively and visually interesting. Although there were some minor technical difficulties with the lighting, the actors persisted and did not allow for it to be a distraction. However, in the first scene when Kevin (Thomas Jestin) and Jamie (Jonah Mullen) are sitting on the bridge, their faces are shadowed, and it is hard to discern if this is a deliberate convention or an accident. At times, it seems the actors were struggling to feel seen and get out of the shadows, while other times it felt natural for them to be only partially revealed.
The actors’ commitment to their characters emphasizes the realism and tragic tone of the story. Audiences receive a generous serving of the tough rural lifestyle and the challenges of wanting to chase their dreams in a town that is holding them down.