SUMMERWORKS: Greenland, Review by Evan Webber


Written by Nicolas Billon

Directed by Ravi Jain
Presented by The Greenland Collective

Featuring Claire Calnan, Andrew Musselman

Presented at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace


August 14th 10:00pm
August 15th 4:00pm

Looking to dramatize what is universal means wandering into ground that’s as treacherous as it is well-trodden. And here we find Greenland, Nicolas Billon’s suite for three. I like people telling stories, but the linked monologues-which-slowly-reveals-familial-tragedy form is, to put it mildly, well-known. Here, perhaps as on the famously mis-named island, we can see what is on the horizon long before it arrives. Under Ravi Jain’s subduing direction the actors spare us most of the treacly moments and do their best to charm and deflect. There is a pleasing sense of pause in the performances, and nice quiet. A supporting credit might go to a pair of ice-cubes tinkling in a rocks glass.

Billon, or his characters, are well-aware of the clich├ęd scientist-finding-god story. Instead his glaciologist character veers toward the more contemporary version – scientist-finding-gloom, and everything follows: things are melting, thawing, breaking up. And so, says Greenland, are we.

Using the language of scientific observation to forge airtight and immovable metaphors about the nature of humanity says nothing about science or people. It only makes a claim about the play itself, which is that because it links science and lived experience it must therefor be both rational and poetically true. For me this is an extremely problematic position; metaphor is an attempt to draw connections in the world that illuminate and affect both subjects, and lead to transformations in thought and in the world. Despite its obvious intentions, the connections Greenland makes are a static disservice.

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