When Brian March was handed the script for the recent Canadian play Sequence, he concluded it was unlike anything he had read and immediately wanted to bring it to the stage.
“It just jumped off the page,” said March, artistic director of Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre. “Things were happening that were unexpected, full of surprises, full of big ideas and, as a director, it lends itself to presenting it in many different ways.”
The play, published in 2014 by Calgarian playwright and ophthalmologist Arun Lakra, follows two pairs of people whose intertwining stories unfold simultaneously. On one side there’s a debate between science and faith as a religious university student improbably scores zero on his biology professor’s multiple choice exam, while on the other side a man who got rich by correctly guessing the Super Bowl coin toss 20 years straight is being confronted by a mathematician who claims to know his secret and needs some luck of her own.
“It’s not your normal, linear play,” said March, who is directing the Western Edge production of Sequence at the Harbour City Theatre from March 29 to April 7. “There’s different time dimensions, the characters have their crises but they also represent things in the bigger picture. It’s a play full of questions, I guess you could say, and those questions are answered somewhat but it’s really left up to the audience.”
March said the play can be overwhelming due to the scientific, mathematical, religious and philosophical concepts the characters are discussing, a comprehension barrier he likens to “going to see Shakespeare if you’re not a Shakespearean scholar.”
“You go to see the story and the characters but sometimes the language can get in the way a bit,” he said. “But still, if it’s a good production you get what the characters are going through. You get what the main storyline is and follow it along.”
March said the advanced terminology is also a challenge for his cast, who have to convince viewers that they are experts that know what they’re talking about, a feat that goes beyond words.
March said he expects to elicit some “hmm…’s” from the audience as they are either introduced to new concepts or are moved to mull over the mysteries of life that are not normally top of mind. He said it will leave viewers with a lot to think about.
“Either they’ll gain some knowledge about things, they’ll get caught up in the characters’ dilemmas as we build to this big conclusion at the end and some people will take the humour from it and enjoy that aspect of it,” March said. “But I guess I’d like to have the audience leave and start to think about some of those big ideas that they maybe push aside in their daily lives and maybe have a debate.”
WHAT’S ON … Western Edge presents Sequence at the Harbour City Theatre on March 29 and 30 and April 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m. and April 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $24, available in-person at Amethyst Forest, online or by phone at 250-816-6459.