“Massive: A Comedy About Cancer”: A Moving New Take on the Survivor Story

  Photo by Liam Lonegan, Artistic Director of the Egg and Spoon Theatre Collective    Featured (Left to Right): Maura Campbell, Nance Williamson, Steven Bergman, Robert Moss, Marylouis Burke

Photo by Liam Lonegan, Artistic Director of the Egg and Spoon Theatre Collective

Featured (Left to Right): Maura Campbell, Nance Williamson, Steven Bergman, Robert Moss, Marylouis Burke

Max Berry

Cancer is not a subject that one would think of for centering a comedy around, though Maura Campbell's new play “Massive” takes on the daunting task of taking a serious and often somber topic and making us able to still laugh at the people on stage.

“ I didn’t set out to write a comedy but once the story about a family started to gel, it simply got funny.” Campbell says.

The play initially started as a one man show for actor Steven Bergman who himself was in remission from Stage 4 throat cancer. “I was immediately sympathetic, of course, but the playwright in me thought, ‘Wow! An actor who is in danger of losing his voice!’Steve shared his personal journals and hours of film footage that were written and shot during his treatment and I realized that it was a family story.”

The reading was directed by Robert Moss, who met Campbell in the MFA program at Hollins University and has always been drawn to her writing. Moss had directed other staged readings of Campbell's plays through the Hollins University MFA program. This play in particular peaked Moss’s interest because of the “success over incredible odds” story of “Massive.” “I think we need to hear that obstacles can be overcome.  Governments can be brought to heel.  That is a desperate message these days.  I think an audience wants to hear that a government can respond to its people.  Imagine such a thing!” Moss says.

In addition to being a story about a family dealing with a loved one being diagnosed with cancer, the play also tells a very political story regarding the lack of awareness in the UK for boys to be vaccinated against the HPV virus This is something that, until this past July, was only offered to girls. It is this lack of vaccination that leads George to being diagnosed with cancer, as well as  many men across the UK and the world.  “I certainly know a lot more about HPV-viral related cancers.” Campbell says, “And even though I have lost family members to cancer, I never had access to someone’s inner world as they navigated the terrible and debilitating treatment. It was humbling. I feel honored that Steve trusted me with his private thoughts.”

While the reading of this unique and engaging play has concluded, Campbell is looking towards having a reading in London.  “A British audience will have a different reaction to different aspects of the play. I wrote it for British characters, after all. ” It seems Campbell is only getting started, so keep your eyes peeled for more from this thought provoking play.

 

“Massive” was written by Maura Campbell and directed by Robert Moss. It stars Steven Bergman, Nance Williamson, Bryn Dolan, Marylouise Burke, Christopher Denham, and Kimberly Patterson reading stage directions.

The reading was produced by Egg and Spoon Theatre Collective. Artistic Director Liam Lonegan, Managing Director Elizabeth Carson