Imagine the old joke about the man in the cabin who picks up a couple of drifters. If you combine any variation of that joke with the White Stripes, a picture of Lukas Black, the memory of a drunk singing in a Montreal bar and a dash of old German fairy tale; you may find yourself in the same mind-set as Greg MacArthur when he wrote Get Away.
The story of the removal of one self from a previous environment, Get Away is not about Darwin's fish crawling up from the ocean or a Kim Bassinger and Alec Baldwin action vehicle. The play, showing in ATP's Enbridge playRites Festival, is the story of a man, David (Patrick Galligan), who needed to remove himself from a plague society, but finds a couple of drifters, Henry (Jesse Dwyre) and Garbo (Adrienne Smook) untouched by the desolation of the big city.
"It's about Orlando Bloom," says playwright Greg MacArthur mischievously, before scampering off to avoid any elaboration, looking back only briefly to give a smile reminiscent of a little imp.
"It's not about Orlando Bloom," director Glenda Stirling sighs and smiles. The brief interaction witnessed speaks volumes about their relationship and the production. A playwright in her own right, Stirling understands the difficulty of letting go of a piece and so worked alongside MacArthur in the earlier stages.
"In a festival of all new plays, it becomes really important to just let the words speak for themselves," Stirling explained about her method. "This isn't some old play that's been produced hundreds of times, this time it's really about letting the play speak for itself. It wasn't hard because when I read it I got a very clear idea of it in my mind."
Two kids, practically, out in the wilderness and take refuge in a house in the woods. Stirling draws out and plays up the Hansel and Gretel theme planted by MacArthur, as well as other quirks she picked up from the story.
"I won't try to say what meaning Greg [MacArthur] was putting into the play, but I see in it a commentary on the apathy of the city," muses Stirling. "There's a certain realism to it: it's not a thriller, it's not a horror story, and it's not a political commentary--it's realism on it's tippy toes."
David, the man from the city, is tired of the jaded life of urban centres. When he gets the opportunity to invite two teenagers into his cabin, he takes it. The compassion they show for one another convinces him to let them stay and one night turns into two, which inevitably turns into three and so on. His fascination with the two visitors, Henry and Garbo, renders him complacent and servile.
While Garbo, the precocious one, seems nervous and suspicious of David's behavior, the gregarious Henry warms to the idea of the relationship the two of them have struck up with the older man. It seems the situation provides the characters with what they need emotionally. The play explores how those need change.
Get Away vouches to showcase three characters and the way they learn to react with each other. One character might learn smiling will get her everywhere, while another will learn by being helpful he can gain the gratitude of another. On the other hand, these interactions just might spiral out of control.
Although they aren't making huge leaps for the species from ocean to '80s cheese flick, Get Away promises that its characters will evolve.