Edmonton 2012 Village of the Fringe Review: Titanic

One hundred years ago, the Royal Mail Steamship Titanic sank beneath the waves. As the preamble to the play Titanic reminds us, two of the three most compelling storytellers of the mythos are Canadian: Governor General's award winner E.J. Pratt and preening anti-oil filmmaker James Cameron. This play recreates one of their stories.

I can't figure out which of the two girls was supposed to be Rose. I mean, Kate Jestad does have the name Kate, and she sort of looks like Kate Winslet. But Melanie Godbout is by far the hotter one, and isn't Rose supposed to be the hottest girl on the ship?

Okay, I pulled this trick earlier (and more convincingly) yesterday, didn't I? Yes, this is retelling the Pratt poem in dramatic form.

If you're interested, I can actually show you the script for the play itself. The dramatic reading follows it line for line (with the exception of the girls, particularly Jestad, who flubbed a few words). Good use with ladders as props (but very little other props or effects used, which was probably a weakness) and lots of energy from the cast as they played a variety of different characters covering a variety of emotions about the sinking.

Most of the play, as it happens, isn't even about the sinking. Like the Cameron film its all about the setup: painting pictures of the iceberg, the warnings of trouble, the busy seas, and the posh surroundings. Cameron's play took steerage, Pratt's poem took First Class.

When the iceberg hits, the fan is hit as well: the play turns to chilling as it tells the tale of the Carpathia, 60 miles away and 2/3rds of the bigger ship's size and speed, racing beyond her redline in a valiant effort to save the lives aboard the doomed vessel. The social order being mostly upheld (unlike the slanderous film version of events), boys becoming men, men becoming prisoners of their new watery grave. Finally the ship sinks, the lights go out, and while you walk away from the experience feeling profound, 1400 in the north Atlantic a century ago weren't nearly so lucky.

Final word: This play is delightful, chilling, creative, engaging, and...well, Titanic.