Donald and Lenore satirize the human condition

“I told you I don’t like elevators,” Lenore reminds Donald, as she drags him by his rope-bound hands back onto the stage. Lenore refuses to close the chapter on her many years as a lounge act entertaining in a subterranean airport bar. The world at the Earth’s surface may be coming to an end or some twisted beginning but Lenore holds tight to her artificial palm trees, her bongo drums and the paralyzing prison of her own mind.

The play is Tom Cone’s, Donald and Lenore, which ran from March 7th-20th as part of the 2010 Chutzpah Festival. Following the performance there was a Q & A session, where Cone was asked what his play is about by a woman who has seen it twice and still doesn’t get it. Cone replied in a circular fashion. The play doesn’t follow a standard plot but Cone feels it has a certain logic. Logic is not one of the concepts that sprang to mind when I saw the play with a bunch of Capilano Theatre and Creative Writing students.

I thought about the Stockholm syndrome, nuclear holocaust, prison justice and systemic corruption, the cycle of abuse, sadomasochistic sexuality, crippling fear of change, life in a bubble of ignorance and denial, emotional dependence and the politics of trust. Do you want to run screaming yet?

Most of us spent a lot of time laughing and the play’s director, David Bloom, found that refreshing. He lamented that some audiences hadn’t felt as free to laugh as the students attending that night. Much of the play seemed farcical and in spite of the painfully serious collage of subject matter woven throughout the piece, Cone satirized the human condition. We were definitely laughing with him, not at him.

There is nothing like live theatre. The audience plays a part, as in the laughter during Donald and Lenore. The actors, the audience and the theatre space combine to form one living entity.

Tom Cone is the writer in residence for The 12 Secrets Festival at Capilano University. Once a year the Theatre Department and the Creative Writing Department collaborate to produce a series of five-minute plays. Tom Cone sets the constraints: five minutes, one secret, three characters, no props and no costumes. He guides the student playwrights through the grueling slog of drafts and rewrites until the plays are ready for the Theatre students to act and direct.

This year’s festival had its closing performance just before the Olympic reading break, but if you missed it you can VISIT WWW.CAPILANOCOURIER.COM and watch the videos filmed on closing night.

//Norvena Vitet

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