Crude Love - love flourishes in occupied alberta

Crude Love, asking the question how different is alberta under US occupation than the tories

The house was nearly full for the first performance of Crude Love on Tuesday August 26th. I knew within the first ten minutes that this play would be a definite audience pleaser.

The play is set in 2012, on the Alberta Tar Sands, which are being occupied by the US military. Abbie Waxman (Russell Bennett) an environmental protester chains himself to an oil tank, in which Newfoundland truck driver Phyllis McCormack (Gillian Bennett) is driving. The two meet and form a unique romance.

First, I must say that the husband and wife duo of Russell Bennett and Gillian Bennett are terrific performers. Mr. Bennett has excellent comedic timing and Mrs. Bennett nails her Newfoundland accent. She captures her character’s east coast temper and tenderness. The success of this play rests on the capable shoulders of these two talented performers.

However, the play troubled me a bit. I thought the concept of the piece was very strong, having an unlikely romance on an oil field; but I wasn’t convinced of a budding funny light-hearted romance during US military occupation. I thought that the major conflict with the relationship would have incorporated the political themes more pointedly.

I might have been the only person in the audience not as turned on by the script, because many people were deeply moved at the end and many gave a standing ovation. I think this is one instance when the performers chemistry is stronger than the script.

Crude Love by Gillian and Russell Bennett; Big Smoke Productions (Vancouver, BC). Part of the 2008 Victoria Fringe Festival. Playing at Venue 1 (Downtown Activity Ctr - 755 Pandora) There is one remaining performance: Sun 31 9:30. For more information drill here.

By Laura Harris