SubUrbia — the premiere production of a new Red Deer company called Against the Wall Theatre — is a play about not giving up, as much as it is about growing up.
The comic drama by Eric Bogosian centres on three slacker friends who like to hang out at the local convenience store. Jeff is a college dropout living in his parent’s garage, easy-going Buff only looks as far ahead as the next party, and Tim got himself bounced from the air force and is becoming a bitter alcoholic.
The three buds, respectively played by RDC students Sam Stewart and Matt Dale, and Edmonton actor Chris Cook, think of their high school football-playing days as the pinnacle of their lives.
But they are forced to do some reflecting when their musician friend, Pony, who used to play at school dances, returns to their suburb as a bonafide rock star.
Add to this the friends’ prejudice towards the Pakistani immigrant who runs the store, and sexual tension with two females — Bee-Bee, who’s just out of rehab, and Sooze, an artist planning to move to New York — and there’s some big-time angst going on.
Director Jenna Goldade said SubUrbia, which opens at the Scott Block theatre on Thursday, is very much rooted in the mid-1990s, when it was written, with references to AIDs deaths and the grunge music scene.
But the play carries a universal message about people and places.
“It’s real and raw,” said Goldade, who believes everyone knows someone who’s desperately clinging to the past, like Jeff, Buff or Tim.
Most adults can also probably recall a time when they felt trapped in a small town, or suburb, where nothing of importance seemed to happen. Some might have been itching to leave, but were afraid of taking the risk. Others may have felt bound by family or friends to stay, said Goldade, who grew up in Rocky Mountain House and several other smaller centres.
While SubUrbia is, in part, inspired by Bogosian’s own frustrated adolescence, Goldade doesn’t believe the play disses small-town living as much as it imparts that everyone should set goals in life.
“It’s not saying that staying in a small town is bad, but you should be finding out who you are in the small town,” because everybody needs to find their own place and purpose, said Goldade. “You need to figure out what you want in life — and do it.”
She hopes the gritty coming-of-age story (with some coarse language and suggestive scenes) will draw more people in their 20s to the theatre.
“I know people who think theatre is so lame, and I say, ‘No man, theatre can be really cool,’ ” said Goldade, because it can help make sense of life.
Against the Wall Theatre, a professional company founded by Red Deer College alums Goldade and Amy Erlandson, seeks to bring more contemporary plays to Red Deer.
“I love that there’s so much theatre now, and we want to bring more plays that say something,” said Goldade, who admitted that SubUrbia, with its cast of nine actors and convenience store setting, was a big challenge to take on. “It’s a huge show — especially for our first show.”
But big steps are sometimes exactly what’s needed, she added.
What: Against the Wall Theatre presents SubUrbia, a play by Eric Bogosian
When: Nov. 12 to 15 and Nov. 17 to 21 (All shows start at 8 p.m., except a Nov. 15 matinee at 5:30 p.m.)
Where: Scott Block theatre, 4818 50th Ave., Red Deer
Tickets: $18 ($15 students/seniors) from Ticketmaster. (Tuesdays are pay what you can at the door)