Jun 17

‘The Dandelion Project’ is a thoughful telling of stories of end of life decisions

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Verb Theatre’s The Dandelion Project is a theatrical verbatim documentary, exploring life’s biggest life-or-death decision. Starring Monice Peter, the play features interviews with a variety of people who have intimate experience with the topic of doctor assisted suicide. The play is complex and layered, with very personal stories woven together intricately to create an engaging and compelling piece of theatre.

It seems a little crazy to choose to sit in a theatre and listen to stories of death and dying for approximately 90 minutes. This fact is even mentioned in the play, by Col Cseke, the playwright. But this isn’t a depressing show about death, it’s a show about the endings of life and how people want that ending to play out.

The play centers and is inspired by a case in BC of a woman name Gloria Taylor who was living with ALS and wanted to die with assistance from a doctor. We hear her side of the story, her desire to die in a dignified way and be able to make the choice to not be a burden on the people she loves. We hear from the executive director of Dying with Dignity, an organization that works to improve quality of dying and expand end-of-life options. Disability advocates, doctors and people who have relatives who choose to end their life this way, all chime in.

It’s smart of Verb Theatre to have these interviews be presented verbatim, with the interpretation left up to the viewer. Doctor assisted suicide is a divisive and controversial topic, and this is illustrated in the play. Peter is solid and personable, portraying all of the voices in the documentary and embodying each person. Her performance is remarkable, the viewer forgetting that she is an actor in a play.

The design brings cheeriness and light to a heavy subject. The table and coffee cups are all in yellow, as well as the scarf that Peter uses to differentiate characters. It’s all performed on green fake grass, and projections illuminate the space, making the play visually engaging.

The Dandelion Project deals with the heavy subject of doctor assisted suicide. But Verb Theatre’s telling of the stories that center around the subject is not heavy at all.

The Dandelion Project runs at the EPCOR CENTRE’s Motel until June 22nd. Tickets and more information is available online.

Photo Credit: Justin Michael Carriere

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