In J.P. Chartier’s play 2020, a husband and wife struggle to work out their issues at the same time as trying to deal with the wife’s father’s decision to opt-in for now legal doctor-assisted suicide.
Writer/actor J.P. Chartier, and actor Alexa Higgins tell you why you should see 2020:
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2020 refers to the date that doctor assisted suicides have become legal. For those who have nowhere to turn, they can go out with dignity. Curiously, the play isn’t actually about suicide. It just serves as a framing device for the action. As the tagline hints at, the real intrigue comes from an interesting side effect. Those who go through the process have their life flash before their eyes, including their deepest darkest secrets, which the sinister doctors can now mine through for their own personal gain.
If it feels like there’s a lot going on, it’s because there is. 2020 feels like it’s trying to tell multiple stories. There’s the assisted suicide subplot, the doctors who profit from the secrets of the dead, and the relationship drama of the married couple who cannot open up to each other. The core of the play is the relationship, and it has strong performances by the actors. But 2020 introduces all of these ideas and never really takes advantage of them in the best way possible which means that, all in all, it feels like there’s wasted potential here. It was good, but with the feeling there could have been so much more. Three.
I want to start positive so I’ll say I really liked the cast of this play. J.P. Chartier, Alexa Higgins, and Thea Mikolic in particular are good actors and made this play watchable. Jennifer Vallance and John Collins were also fine in their roles, though I guess now it’s time to get into what bothered me about 2020.
The doctors had no story and served no purpose except for speechifying things that really had no bearing on the real story of the play. They talked (droned?) a lot, especially in their early scenes, and they repeated their exposition, repeatedly. There really isn’t any reason we need to know so much about the mechanics of the memory capture stuff, and to be honest, the memory stuff is kind of out of place to begin with in what could have been a good drama about dealing with assisted suicide — if the largely pointless doctor scenes didn’t take a good twenty minutes of stage time away from it.
The other thing that bothered me was the over-stylized scenes between the married couple. You know how Dawson’s Creek got a lot of flack from its witty and way-to-intellectual-for-teenagers dialogue. This was like that, only unlike in Dawson’s Creek, it wasn’t working. None of it flowed naturally or seemed particular inspired on a stylized level. In the end, especially combined with the doctor characters, it all just felt to me like a lot of discourse for discourse sake.
That said, and giving one more positive where it’s due, the A.V. stuff was cool. The intro to the doctor character deserves kudos and the bus scene was fun. Starting the play ten minutes late to show a long cast reel and commercial…. not so much.
Make the married couple interact like normal people, take the doctors out so you can focus on their story, then maybe you have some substance. As is, maybe it just wasn’t for me, but, two.
– by Allan Mackey
2020 is an interesting concept. In the year 2020, doctor-assisted suicide is now legally available to those who wish to end what they would consider a life of torment; however a darker secret surrounds the legal suicides as doctors have determined a way to save all of their clients memories to computer in the last five seconds of their lives. Meanwhile, a young married couple are dealing with troubles of infidelity as well as facing the reality that the young woman’s own father will be undergoing assisted suicide. Like I said, JP Chartier’s script is an interesting concept – unfortunately it gets bogged down by too many plot lines.
Every character, and there are six of them, have their own agenda – and for a 60 minute play it makes it hard to find a singular plotline to be the main one. Directed by Sarah Hearn (whom you may remember from the OLT’s production of I Hate Hamlet) 2020 is an edgy production – but maybe edgy just to be edgy, as it has a completely unnecessary full frontal male nude scene. The play itself could stand up as a great play with some polishing – but is instead simply okay. The actors were great – and that’s what really makes this play watchable from beginning to end. JP Chartier is a strong actor – and so is Jennifer Vallance. A few of the characters, specifically the main doctor, continuously stumbled over his lines – but because the rest of the cast were so strong I didn’t really care that much. I really hope JP Chartier polishes up the script a bit and I would love to take the chance to see it again; but until then it lies in the middle grounds. 3.
– by Matthew Champ
Photos for this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho.