October 27, 2010

Vancouver Courier reviews Thunderstick

First Nations buddy comedy filled with laughs

Heavy themes handled with light touch

By Jo Ledingham
The Odd Couple, First Nations-style? Call it what you will, Kenneth T. Williams' Thunderstick is a fine and funny two-hander starring Lorne Cardinal (best known as the loopy cop on Corner Gas) and Craig Lauzon (Royal Canadian Air Farce). These actors, brought to us from Persephone Theatre and Theatre Network by the Firehall's artistic producer Donna Spencer, are real pros in the funny department. Even the scene changes are hilarious. (When did you last hear an audience laugh out loud and applaud the scene changes?) And just to keep things really interesting, Cardinal and Lauzon switch roles every night. It's tempting to go back to see it a second time especially since, the evening I saw the show, Cardinal--usually a truly goofy character--played the straight man to Lauzon's bozo.

It's refreshing to see two First Nations characters off reserve and/or out of the Downtown Eastside dramatized. These are regular working guys: Jake is a journalist (but a bad alcoholic) and his cousin Ike is a photographer who has been away for 15 years on assignment in war-ravaged Africa. Ike returns to Canada, checks up on Jake only to find him in a drunken, puking stupor--which explains the toilet on stage. (A toilet on stage is, like a gun, one of those uh-oh items.)

After good-naturedly trading insults and, briefly, talking about their unhappy childhoods (Ike's history in residential school, Jake's on reserve with an abusive father), they end up on a road trip in Jake's duct-taped, red Ford Escort on their way to Muskoka, hot on the trail of the mysteriously missing Minister of Justice.

Your traditionally savvy First Nations men these are not. Once in the bush, spooked by the howls of wolves, ignorant about lighting a fire and hungry for lack of forethought, this is one odd couple of not-so-braves.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Hollywood Ghettoizes Native Actors and Preview of Thunderstick.

Below:  "Craig Lauzon and Lorne Cardinal switch roles every night in the First Nations buddy comedy Thunderstick at the Firehall Arts Centre."

No comments: