Theatre Mirror Reviews "Greenland"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Sheila Barth


Reviewed by Sheila Barth

Serious issues like climate change, global warming, Arctic melting, and other natural phenomena caused by polluting emissions assume a personal glance in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s poignant production of “Greenland,” Canadian playwright Nicolas Billon’s award-winning, 55-minute drama. The play is part of Billon’s triptych, “Fault Lines” series.

In “Greenland,” three actors create a triangle, each taking his/her place, in a centrally-located chair, up-stage, emotionally telling their story directly to us, in monologues. Guest director Meg Taintor superbly leads this dynamic trio of outstanding Boston stars, who don’t approach each other, yet are irrevocably interconnected, through their familial relationship and tragedies. They’re also moving apart, metaphorically mimicking affected island nations.

We feel for them. We identify with them. And we fear with them.

Against Matheus Fiuza’s sparsely-set stage, its floor snowy white, and a suspended,  blue-hued illuminated landscape panel, Charlotte Kinder as teen-ager Tanya, Dale J. Young portraying renowned glaciologist, Dr. Jonathan Fahey, and Christine Powers as his bitter wife, Judith, deliver compelling performances in this stark play. (Gillian Mackay-Smith alternating as Judith replaces Powers, March 13-15).  

Tanya emotionally relates how her twin brother, Thomas, died by drowning. And Judith tells us the children’s parents, while traveling in their car, were crushed to death by a massive chunk that fell from an overhead highway. They were adopted by their aunt, Judith, a bitter, chain-smoking, dissatisfied, character actor and her scientist husband, Fahey. 

He relates his lifelong curiosity and fascination with ice, starting with his childhood and alcoholic father, leading to his becoming a glaciologist and discovering a new island off the coast of Greenland, due to receding ice. An atheist, he reverentially describes the land’s natural beauty and serenity.

In her foul-mouthed diatribe, Judith says she couldn’t care less about Jonathan’s fame or his work. “We have no idea what the other one does for a living,” she spouts. She married him with hopes of having her own child. Her biologic clock is ticking away, but Jonathan is as distant as his beloved Greenland. He named his discovered island after Thomas.

And Tanya, who’s writing a school report on Greenland, is troubled, haunted by Thomas’ death. 

Stashed between their conscience-ridden lines is our real threat of climate changes. Alaska changed the site for its annual Iditarod race  because of warmer temperatures and lack of snow, while we’re experiencing unprecedented Arctic snowfalls and freezing blasts. Our seas have changed radically, altering and destroying some species. And scientists are baffled on how to stop it. 

Last Sunday afternoon, the Canadian Consulate General of Boston hosted a talkback with Carl Gladish, of MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and another scientist, who painted a grim picture of these changes’ profound effect on natives and the rest of the world.

Billon paints a human, not scientific, portrait of three people. While they evoke our sympathy, Billon subtly makes us read between the lines, and think - really think - about our global crisis.

BOX INFO: Nicolas Billon’s one-act drama, appearing through March 15,with the Apollinaire Theatre Company, Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea. Performances:Friday, Saturday, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. Post-performance receptions with the actors are held in the gallery. Advance tickets, $20; at the door, $25; students, $15. Call 617-886-2336 or visit www.apollinairetheatrecom. 

"Greenland" (till 15 March)
@ 189 Winnisimmet Street, CHELSEA MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide