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Monday, November 11, 2013

Pig Girl - Hard to Watch, Important to Think About

The other night I took in Pig Girl at Theatre Network.  I am not one to shy away from shows with difficult and challenging topics, as I like theatre that leaves me with a pang in my heart and thinking for days.  The topic is the abduction and murder of marginalized women in the Vancouver area by Robert Pickton and the impact on their families. Although Pickton's name is never mentioned, it's pretty clear that he is the model for the Killer (Randy Hughson).  It's a tough piece to watch for many reasons. The topic itself is not very palatable.  In real time we watch the Killer assault and prepare to kill Dying Woman (Nadien Chu), this is itself is very hard to watch as it is graphic and unrelenting and ever present.  Side by side with that we watch the frustrated Dying Woman's Sister (Elinor Holt) plead for help from the Police Officer (Brian Dooley) over the many years of her sister's disappearance.   It challenges everyone sitting in the audience about how much they care about these lost women.  It's very clear to me that playwright Colleen Murphy is angry and this comes through in her play very clearly in her representation of Police Officer.  I think this was what was hardest for me.  As the figure of authority, Police Officer represents all of society, and the anger leveled at him in this script is palpable.  As he appears uncaring and annoyed at the persistence of the Dying Woman's Sister it says something about the world as a whole.  Initially, when I left I was ticked off at that portrayal as I thought that the play actually was dehumanizing the police, making them more monstrous than the actual killers. I know RCMP officers and they truly care about the people they work with, most of whom are marginalized like the Dying Woman.  But then I started to think about it and why I was so angry.  In this play, the Police Officer is all of us.  The Police Officer is those of us who read the horrifying stories in the newspaper and are appalled, but distanced. We feel sad, but we are thankful that this is not our world.  We might hold our children closer and use the Dying Woman and Killer as a cautionary tale, but we do not do much more than that.  I am not sure where to go further though. We can think more of these lost women as humans who did not deserve what happened to them no matter what their life choices.  We can think more about their families who have lost precious daughters and sisters and mothers.  We can give money to the organizations that help protect those women (you can do this right in the lobby of the theatre). Beyond that, I am not sure what else we can do, because there will always be monsters in the dark that take the shape of humans and prey on those least able to help themselves...

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