The KTS knows how to go out with a bang! The final show of the season, Colours in the Dark, is a large production requiring a large cast and crew. Its child-like exuberance is reminiscent of when you empty your treasured toy box one afternoon and play out every story you know, mashed up with bits of memories and emotions you’d nearly forgotten.
Ontario-born playwright James Reaney won numerous awards for his poetry and drama. His play, Colours in the Dark, was originally produced in 1967 by the Stratford Festival, and again two years later by the Vancouver Playhouse. Now his granddaughter, Edie Reaney Chunn, has directed her own vision of his work, produced by Erica Guy and Beth Airton.
When I entered the space, I was delighted to be instantly immersed in the world of the story. It’s welcoming and unusually comforting, as though entering a familiar place that you’d forgotten. The actors are onstage prior to the top of the show, clearly comfortable in their characters, playing a game of musical chairs. They play with the numerous props, they dance and smile, absorbed in this world that they excitedly wait to share with us.
It is a fun show; suitably colourful, both through props and lighting, thereby enhancing the mood and tying the plot together. A large curtained window at the back of the set serves as an entrance, as well as a screen onto which they project relevant details for the setting. The set is mostly comprised of props; mementoes and other familiar objects, each telling its own story that the actors bring to life with the help of the lighting.
This play requires the largest cast I’ve seen in a KTS production thus far, and the actors work wonderfully well together, portraying the story with fluidity and a sense of personal connection. The lines are delivered with purpose; they are spoken clearly, each one allowed to land before continuing to the next, gently emphasizing the eloquence of the play. This enunciation is key, because the play is loaded with allusions and many layers of meaning, much of which would be lost if the actors did not take their time with every line.
Although the dream-like quality of the play, rapid scene changes, and different actors playing the same character may be hard to follow at times, the actors’ dedication to their characters feels authentic and relatable. The dreamy and sometimes disorienting quality makes it more enthralling to watch; as you try to wrap your head around the significance of every subtle action or word. However, I found the intermission to be jarring in this particular play, much like when you wake too early from a dream. As though, just as you’ve come to reality, you were suddenly tossed back into the dream, it takes a little while to make sense of again. It is an interesting method of storytelling; obviously reminiscent, yet possessing a personal depth that each individual will derive a different meaning from.
The commitment of every cast and crew member results in a visually captivating performance and a wonderful conclusion to the KTS season.