Love and war: The Romeo Initiative kicks off Alberta Theatre Projects’ Enbridge playRites Festival

by Jenna Shummoogum · 1 comment

L to R: Kira Bradley, Jamie Konchak, Christian Goutsis. Photo: Trudie Lee

All is fair in love and war. That’s what they say at least.

The Romeo Initiative, a play by Trina Davies is set in cold war Germany and tells of Karin Maynard (Kira Bradley), an earnest and somewhat vulnerable secretary, and Markus Richter (Christian Goutsis), the man she meets while on vacation. Their romance blooms slowly, under the scrutiny of Lena Hahn (Jamie Konchak), Karin’s only friend.

The play features strong performance from the cast. Bradley brings a genuine heart to Karin, portraying with subtlety her vulnerability and her strength. Konchak returns to Alberta Theatre Projects this season, her last entry being The Penelopiad and does not disappoint in her delivery. Showing her outstanding versatility, Konchak straddles the line between friend and foe, genuine and fake, wise and foolish.

Making clever use of a rotating stage and a projected image, each scene of the play rolls smoothly into each other. When the two are at the beach, the image of the horizon is the background. When they are reading letters aloud, there is an image projected of a footprint in the sand. A simple background allows the audience to focus on the plot as it unfolds.

All seems well as Karin and Markus’s relationship progresses, though there are sparks of tension every now and again. He is away quite a bit doing humanitarian work, Karin is almost too cautious toward their relationship and Lena is quite manipulative in creating doubt in Karin’s mind.

What does it mean to love? How far would you go for what you believe in? As the play deals with these questions the audience begins to questions if the whole story is being told.

The Romeo Initiative is a bit slow to get off the ground in establishing the relationships between the characters and the tension between them. It also misses the mark in really establishing time and place.  The hints of conflict could have been more striking, more startling. But, like a snowball rolling down a hill, the play gains quickly moving into the second half.  Dancing within metaphors of Romeo and Juliet and the ideas of fairytales, the play comes to its screeching conclusion in the ruins of broken hearts. But all is fair in love and war right?

The Romeo Initiative is part of Alberta Theatre Projects Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays. The festival is entering its 25th year. Tickets are available at the door or at atplive.com

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