‘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.


Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month