In his new production, Nanaimo director and playwright Jeff James Monson takes a look at what would happen if women ran the world.
In The Age of Women, a plague has wiped out 95 per cent of the male population, leaving women in charge of everything. Nicole Potvin plays Elena, a biologist searching for a cure, while Blaine Nosworthy and Frank Bailey play two men with opposing temperaments living together in hiding.
Monson said the idea came to him in a dream – “or a nightmare.”
“And then with Trump being in office and all that stuff and the #MeToo movement – and I just got out of a really bad relationship – so I think all of those things together sort of made me want to write something about the human being and the male and the female side,” he said.
Potvin said the last few characters she’s played have been “powerhouse women,” and while Elena is “an absolute dynamo” who is strong and capable, she also embraces her vulnerability. Monson wrote the character with Potvin in mind.
“It’s really cool to see someone who isn’t just that infallible hero, you know?” Potvin said. “Because, for me, I think that my strongest moments come out of when I fall down and scrape my knees and pull myself back up. And when you’re really scared but you still face that challenge ahead.”
Nosworthy said Monson approached him with “a role that would make everybody hate me, and so I was like, ‘Right on.’” Nosworthy plays Axel, a misogynist who reacts to the changing world with fear and anger.
“Getting to play a character that encapsulates that stereotypical female-hating man who thinks he should be in control of everything and thinks he should run the world and thinks that he knows everything is just a dream,” he said. “I love playing those characters. I love being the character that people are going to walk away and be like, ‘Oh, that guy’s a [jerk].’ I like doing things that challenge me.”
Bailey is making his on-stage acting debut in The Age of Women as Paul, whom he described as a “gentle, calm soul,” contrasting with the more assertive Axel.
“He makes the hard choices. He’s more of the leader,” Bailey said. “I’m not that strong so he helps me survive, which creates quite an interesting dynamic between the two of us when we stumble upon a third person.”
Being new to the stage, Bailey said he didn’t realize at first “how much I bit off” when he agreed to take part, but said it’s been a great adventure so far.
“I’m surrounded by three method actors who are exceedingly versed in theatre,” he said. “So if you want to get good at something, surround yourself by people who are already great at it and it elevates your game.”
Monson said while there is a message of human equality in the play, there’s also room for interpretation and he hopes to leave audience members in conversation.
“As long as it gets them thinking and using their imagination and there’s a discussion afterwards and they don’t just leave with everything tied up neatly in a bow, then I feel like, as a writer, I’ve done my job,” Monson said.
WHAT’S ON … The Age of Women comes to Kismet Theatre, 112-55 Victoria Rd., on Nov. 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 available at the Romper Room, the Modern Cafe and at the door.