A Canadian look at humans being
Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love
At The Drama Workshop, University College
Edmonton, Alberta in the 1970s is not a setting which typically conjures images of violence, murder, desire and confused sexual identities. But Brad Fraser's award-winning Canadian play, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, transforms this prairie setting into a world which encompasses all these aspects of humanity and explores them in context with this decade's Canadian youth.
The play revolves around a close group of friends and their search for personal love and belonging. David (Andrew Capps) is a young man who has to struggle with his friend's acceptance of his sexual identity and his belief that true love cannot exist. Candy (Tania Music), David's ex-girlfriend and current roommate, is lonely and unsure of whether she would be happy in a relationship with a man or a woman.
Bernie (Neil Doctorow) is the third of this foursome, who, early in his life has to deal with the abortion and subsequent suicide of his young girlfriend Dana (Karoline Lobsinger).
The story gets even more involved as these characters interact in other prospective relationships and consult the mystical junkie hooker Benita (Andrea Jancelewicz). Benita is "sensitive" and can read the true feelings of the characters. To add to the already tense drama of the play, a serial killer is loose somewhere in Edmonton.
Jim Schaefer directs Human Remains, along with a team of students who have taken Fraser's original 1989 script and written their own scenes to complement and expand the story. Christine Lacey, along with a group of actresses, has written a recurring segment representing the inner turmoil of the characters.
Students Jason Tannis and Tim Corbett have written prologue scenes which give some previous history to the characters and aid in the understanding of their motives throughout the play. Tannis has also composed a six-minute film to be shown during the play. Speaking as a director and actor, Tannis feels Human Remains is a demanding production, requiring "an emotionally-naked performance as well as physically naked at times."
It is true some scenes in the play will visually shock and disturb some viewers. The performers must enact some negative realities of human relationships suicide, murder and child abuse. Music assures that all parties involved were respected when it came to personal safety. At the end of each rehearsal, Music says, the cast would join in a group hug to ensure that no negative feelings were still prevailing. "And everyone is wearing two pairs of underwear," she asserts.
Jim Schaefer states the production gives a real representation of Canadian youth and the added scenes allow for "a student perspective." The play is widely celebrated in universities and colleges across Canada, with performances just finishing at Dalhousie and universities in Toronto.
The growth of the four main characters is mainly achieved through the choices they must make throughout the play. Candy is constantly searching for belonging, and must decide between the married bartender Robert (Corbett) and the persistent lesbian Jerri (Tia Wong). Human Remains challenges the dynamics of all types of relationships and asks the viewer to question the true nature of love.
Schaefer feels the issues in Human Remains are relevant to 20-somethings of the '90s. The audience will come away with the feeling that it has connected with some of the issues raised in the play. As intricate and individual as the characters may seem, they all embody the need for personal growth and self-knowledge one feels in youth.
GRABBING FOR A PIECE OF. . . Andrea Jancelewicz finds herself desired in the production Unidentified Human Remains, which opens at the Drama Workshop tonight.