Sixty shows will be a part of the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year and there is no possible way to see them all. How to choose, then? We put out a call to presenting artists with a challenge. We’ll meet with all those interested. We’ll give you three minutes (roughly). You convince us why we see should see your show. Kind of like speed dating. In fact, that’s what we called it. In this case, everybody we selected got a literal calendar date. Today, that show is Take a Jump in it Theatre’s Oceans Apart.
After eight-months of constant turmoil and terror in Afghanistan, a soldier returns home and has to adjust to living in a relatively peaceful world without his “brothers and sisters in arms”. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being to creep into his life and when he can’t learn to cope, he decides to take a cross-Canada journey of self-discovery. Along the way, he meets up with a fellow soldier and his sister who bring his on-stage story to an unknown resolution.
This show stars hot, young, up-and-coming actors from Algonquin College (Alain Chauvin), and the University of Ottawa (Rebecca Laviolette and Daniel Groleau Landry). Their performances will be supported by pre-recorded music and voices, as well as the backstage duo of Catherine Ballachey (dramaturge and director) and Tiara Wallace (stage manager).
What I Liked About Oceans Apart
As much as I respect and appreciate the hard work and sacrifices of our soldiers, theatrical displays of their trials and tribulations make me uncomfortable. I know that I’m limiting myself with this approach to selecting shows but when I go to see a play, I don’t want to leave depressed and generally that’s what happens when I see shows about war. So Oceans Apart didn’t even register on my initial Fringe Favorites list.
After a few minutes of speaking to Alain (the show’s writer and star), I changed my mind. Here’s why:
It isn’t a show for theater people. It’s a show for the community whose stories these are. This suggests an authentic and sincere performance instead of the avant-garde “representations” of war that sometimes hit the stage (or, worse yet, the shows that seem to exist only to push buttons).
It’s a show about a man’s personal journey, both literally and metaphorically. Not everyone has served in the military but I’d venture to say that most adults have suffered deeply at some point and/or taken a similar journey. I expect that something in this show will resonate with anyone who gets to see it.
It’s meant to start a conversation about PTSD. Everyone knows someone who is affected by war but not everyone knows what really goes on behind teary eyes and weak smiles. Hearing this story may help us relate to and understand each other better. Besides, I think we can all agree that mental health is a serious matter that could use more attention.
It has a happy ending, although Alain warns that some audience members may wish to imagine an alternate conclusion. I’m intrigued when any playwright tells me that the show’s ending is both happy and perhaps not what everyone wants or expects.
And… there are explosions.
Instead of being about big concepts like ‘The Military’ and ‘War’, Oceans Apart is simply about a soldier dealing with the chaos in his memory and his heart. It’s driven by a passionate desire to tell someone’s story and that’s something I can get behind.
For more information on Oceans Apart including show time and how to buy tickets, visit their show page on the Ottawa Fringe Festival website: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/oceans-apart/