Reflections on Bone Cage, Theatre Yes...

I admit it. I had reservations about Bone Cage before I saw it. This was heightened when I read the Director's Notes which indicted the Oil Sands industry and it's toxic sludge of tailings ponds and the suggestion that if we really thought about what we were doing to make a living we would be sickened by it.  I've heard that rhetoric before and having spent most of my life in Fort McMurray I couldn't help but bristle a bit, but I was determined to view the play with an open mind.

I was expecting a rhetoric laden piece about the environment, with blame laid here and there... but that's not what I saw.  Instead, I didn't see much of the environmental message earned. It was there, but it felt pasted on as a convenient scapegoat for the unhappiness of the people in the play. What played out was that these people were screwed up because of past tragedies - a lost son/brother, a wayward mother, a missing father, bad parenting, poor choices in school, or general immaturity. Do people stay in jobs that they don't like because of the money - yes - but people do that all the time. I know former teacher colleagues who I could tell hated teaching, but they would never leave the field because the money was good. I know friends who don't leave jobs they dislike (because they have no passion for it) because they are scared of not knowing what else is out there. This is not something unique to resource industries.  I think Jaime, played with intensity by Neil Kuefler, tries to blame the work for his unhappiness, but he'd still be destroying ecosystems if he got his dream job in B.C. He'd just thinks he'd be happier if he was piloting a helicopter.  It is not the environment he cares for. He just wants something outside himself to blame for why he's unhappy, but really he has a myriad of things to blame for that.  With all the characters, the solution would be to take responsibility and change themselves, but no one seems to keen to actually do that. Their personal inaction and lack of true communication with each other gets somewhat irritating.  Why don't they just leave? I don't know how many times I asked myself that question...


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