‘Divide’ imaginative, epic story-telling

From a rain-splattered trek along B.C.’s West Coast Trail to a post-apocalyptic visit to a Vatican wasteland, the world premiere of Ignition Theatre’s Divide takes you on an unsettling ride to the end of the Earth as we know it.

From a rain-splattered trek along B.C.’s West Coast Trail to a post-apocalyptic visit to a Vatican wasteland, the world premiere of Ignition Theatre’s Divide takes you on an unsettling ride to the end of the Earth as we know it.

Joel Crichton’s highly imaginative solo performance piece, which opened Thursday at the Nickle Studio upstairs at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre, is many things, including a beat-boxing musical of sorts.

It’s so jam-packed with ideas that fly at such a furious pace that its premise is almost hard to describe.

Mainly, Divide is a feat of epic story-telling that bears a trace resemblance to T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Men, about living in a post-cataclysmic world without God.

The thought-provoking one-man show, directed by Beau Coleman, begins with Crichton’s own guilty social conscience.

The playwright, the audience quickly learns, is someone with deep ideas about his own complicity in the Earth’s downfall.

Climate change, over-population, war, religious intolerance and other global problems are weighing heavily on Crichton’s mind.

The former Red Deer College student, now based in Edmonton, actually contemplated these things while spending five months walking and then sailing around the world.

This journey of self-discovery inspired Divide, which begins with Crichton describing his fundamental dilemma — he would happily enjoy life in an earthly paradise, such as New Zealand, if he wasn’t tormented about paradise lost, and what he can do to help prevent the world’s demise.

In Divide, Crichton portrays himself — a young idealist trying to grow from a “24-year-old boy to a 25-year-old man.” He also depicts his hypothetical son and granddaughter, who live on a greatly diminished Earth.

His “son,” Will is a New Zealander who has journeyed to Vatican City to try to find meaning in religion.

In Divide’s most moving passages, Will finds discovers graffiti, corpses, discarded needles and other detritus of a collapsed civilization in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Christ didn’t die to help us, “he died to get away from us,” concludes a devastated Will, who spends much of his life wandering the wasteland trying to find some useful purpose.

Lucy is the daughter Will hardly knew. She’s making an escape (from what?) on a Chinese sailing ship that will take months to travel to Europe.

Besides living in a world with no airplanes, no internet, and no TV, familial relationships have also broken down.

And Lucy, who has a reason to look towards the future, appears haunted by her own lack of parental ties.

She wants a traditional family, but is mostly angry.

And the venting of Lucy’s rage — shown in bitter beat-boxing segments — is perhaps the show’s greatest weakness because we don’t fully understand Lucy or her surroundings.

Crichton needs to do more to flesh out the character, and the altered world she lives in (Lucy mentions winning awards and experiencing professional jealousy — is this still happening in a post-apocalyptic society, or have things started to rebound?)

But these are small difficulties in a 60-minute performance piece that hangs on imagery, language and big ideas.

The questions that Crichton tackles in Divide — how we can take social action, and whether we can ever know if our actions affect anything? — are certainly timely and worth exploring.

For those reasons alone — nevermind Crichton’s commanding stage presence and his emotion-laiden singing voice — this original show is definitely worth seeing.

Divide continues to Sunday night.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beat the heat this summer with pop-up spray parks

Starting next week, spray parks will be popping up in neighbourhoods across… Continue reading

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Quebec police continue search for father, one day after missing girls found dead

Bodies were found in a wooded area of Quebec City suburb

11 rafters rescued from Red Deer River

Red Deer RCMP rescued a party of 11 river rafters Saturday afternoon… Continue reading

Tuesday marks 20th anniversary of Pine Lake tornado

‘Devastation was apparent’ following F3 tornado killed 12 people on July 14, 2000

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Masks and gloves: Elections Saskatchewan preparing for pandemic election

REGINA — Elections Saskatchewan estimates it will need 400,000 face masks and… Continue reading

Quebec police say they found 2 bodies in St-Apollinaire during search for 2 girls

SAINT-APOLLINAIRE, Que. — Quebec provincial police continue to search for the father… Continue reading

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA chief Don Fehr reflect on RTP, CBA deals

Gary Bettman and Don Fehr finally have a chance to catch their… Continue reading

NHL’s road to Edmonton and Toronto featured plenty of obstacles

Since early March, the novel coronavirus has affected almost every decision facing… Continue reading

Florida sets record week for coronavirus deaths

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida’s coronavirus death rate rose again Saturday, setting… Continue reading

Trump’s defiant help for Stone adds to tumult in Washington

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s intervention into a criminal case connected to… Continue reading

With debt, deficit numbers out, experts say Liberals need plan for growth

Borrowing will push the federal debt past $1 trillion by the end of the fiscal year

Most Read