War resonates. It may not be fought on our shores but the traumas still manage to catch up to us. Oceans Apart invites you on a journey to travel with a soldier returned from Afghanistan who is trying to live with the things that he’s done and seen.
Should you see it?
This is a tough show to close a night on. It’s heavy. Patrick has just returned from Afghanistan after his first tour. He is not the same man that left and doesn’t know how to fit in with the world that he used to know. Packing up and leaving his family he decides to drive from the East Coast of Canada to the West Coast of Canada to try and discover what he needs to do with his life next and come to terms with some of the atrocities he’s seen, and unfortunately, committed.
Oceans Apart really delves into the world of post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers coming back from the war and when we are in Patrick’s stream of consciousness we get a clear view into the moral dilemmas he faced and faces on a daily basis. It’s raw. It’s powerful. It’s intimate and I don’t feel like I’m supposed to hear or see the things I am.
Unfortunately we get sucked out of that by the small issues that I have with the play; robotic audio voices which are supposed to symbolize offstage characters, a stiff and uncomfortable performance by an actor playing Joe, an Army buddy of Patrick’s who joins him on stage midway through the performance.
This show would have worked perfectly as a one man show, but gets bogged down by bringing too many characters into it, which makes the script come across as a little disjointed. The longer the show goes on, the smaller the shows punches become.
Alain G. Chauvin is phenomenal as the emotion-ridden Patrick. One of the lines that jumped right out at me during this show was when Patrick was facing his own nightmarish past that caused him to take action and haunts him to this day. A soldier tells him: “It’s ok.” And he responds: “I know. I just wish it wasn’t.”
Oceans Apart is an important tribute to our fallen soldiers who defend our rights and freedoms on a daily basis, it’s also a timely reminder of the horrors of PTSD and how help is accessible if needed. It’s unfortunate that a few tech glitzes, mixed with an ensemble that clearly doesn’t work Oceans Apart doesn’t live up to its true potential.
Oceans Apart felt like two different plays. The first half of the play is effectively a one-person show with the main character’s interaction predominantly with voices and sparse cameos by a second character. Then somewhere around midway through the play shifts and becomes a full three-hander. This change is a bit jarring.
Oceans Apart is an interesting and useful character study into the mind of a soldier whose faced trauma and suffers from PTSD. The emotional turmoil, the reverse culture shock, the flashbacks and blackouts. I don’t personally have much experience with PTSD but have it on good authority that the portrayal and characteristics of the suffering characters in Oceans Apart are well represented.
While this is all well and good, a stronger dramatic arc would help draw audiences into the story – and the plight of the characters – in a much more intimate and raw way. Again, we can look at the two parts of the play. We see a soldier’s attempts to adjust and deal with PTSD, the problem of which is that, dramatically, he doesn’t want anything, so there’s nothing that we really want for him. Then, later we’re introduced to his fellow soldier and the first time we see active desire in the main character in even a mild form.
What did you think of Oceans Apart? How do you take the time to remember those who have fallen serving our country? Join the discussion in the comments below!
For more information on Oceans Apart, including show times and how to get advance tickets, visit the show page on OttawaFringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/oceans-apart/