Belfry’s Valley needs to dig deeper

Joan MacLeod's The Valley's strong message is worth hearing

Luc Roderique, Rebecca Auerbach, Colleen Wheeler and Matt Reznek in The Valley by Joan MacLeod.

Luc Roderique, Rebecca Auerbach, Colleen Wheeler and Matt Reznek in The Valley by Joan MacLeod.

Set against a backdrop of mountains and mythical beasts, The Valley’s four characters circle the stage and tell their stories, exposing fears, beliefs and prejudices toward the police and mental illness.

The stone-like stage, designed by Pam Johnson, sets a solid foundation for their interaction.

UVic professor and playwright, Joan MacLeod, knows how to delve into the personality and gut-wrenching emotions of her characters, unfortunately, this production at the Belfry Theatre lets the writing down in some aspects.

While it may be linked to opening night jitters, the cast – aside from Matt Reznek’s Connor, around who’s sink into depression the play surrounds – feels forced.

The Valley, which MacLeod herself admits is not the easiest subject matter for audiences to absorb, has some very funny moments and the performances are aided by subtle, but defining, costume changes and masterful lighting by lighting designer Itai Erdal.

Reznek’s performance carries the show. Connor is sharp-tongued and biting but can also be seen struggling to be his own person, despite his mother’s controlling personality. He is in touch with Connor’s moods and brings the audience into his despair and anger without becoming maudlin.

Colleen Wheeler’s portrayal of the mother Sharon is aloof and unemotional making her difficult for the audience to connect with. At one point Sharon shouts at Connor, “You’re scaring me,” but the words don’t ring true.

Rebecca Auerbach’s Janie is an acceptable portrayal of a woman stressed by new motherhood and depression. There were frequent glimmers of authenticity in Auerbach’s performance, however, she too, appeared detached from the core of her character and a pivotal scene between Janie and Connor suffered from Auerbach’s apparent rush through the dialogue.

The Valley’s two acts flow smoothly with characters connecting one scene to the next with looks across the stage, as the story unfolds through MacLeod’s interesting and intense dialogue.

The physical struggle between Reznek and Dan the cop, smartly played by Luc Roderique, is believable and shocking enough to bring the audience to the edge of their seats, while avoiding being overly dramatic.

The Valley is a good story with a timely and interesting message, well-told by MacLeod in a way that explores the subtleties of mental illness and depression without being sentimental.

Hopefully the cast will warm up to their characters throughout the run of the performance and give MacLeod’s words their due.

The Valley is at the Belfry Theatre to Feb. 28.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Lantzville singer Raymond Salgado will sing ‘O Canada’ before the Vancouver Canucks’ upcoming game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17. (Photo submitted)
Lantzville singer to perform ‘O Canada’ at Vancouver Canucks game

Raymond Salgado scheduled to sing the anthem at Rogers Arena later this month

Nanaimo children’s entertainer Steve Romanik, represented by his character Mountain Dweller, is giving away his songs and stories to help raise money for children’s causes. (Photo courtesy Steve Romanik)
Nanaimo children’s entertainer ‘Mountain Dweller’ helping raise money for kids’ causes

Steve Romanik partnering with Nanaimo Child Development Centre, B.C. Children’s Hospital

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Most Read