Review: “After Jerusalem” at Lunchbox Theatre

Vicki Trask

  • Calgary Critic

There is something so wonderful about being able to set aside time in the middle of your day to take in some local entertainment. Lunchbox Theatre has been a staple of Calgary theatre since its inception in 1975, providing quality one-act theatre at a lunchtime hour in the heart of the city.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show at Lunchbox. Or if I have, I was so young, I didn’t retain the experience. I will remember this trip. I attended the performance of “After Jerusalem” on Monday October 3rd, looking forward to an entertaining, more light-hearted show. That’s almost what I got. 

This one-act play by Aaron Bushkowsky (whose other show, “The Big Sleep”, is playing across the hall from Lunchbox) tells the story of two people from completely different worlds coming together in Jerusalem for lessons of life, love, and hope. These people are horrible. They’re not good, or inherently evil, they’re just slightly bad. Better yet, they’re real; human and flawed, which made them difficult to watch. In a time where we escape into fantasy, seeing two people lost, lonely, and lying is a glimpse into our own lives that can be very revealing. 

Carol, a tragic guidance counselor from Regina longing for a summer fantasy, discovers the consequences of taking a fake persona too far when she meets Vladmir. Vlad is just as broken and emotionally confused but he has a gun and dreams of seeing his script produced in Hollywood. Together, they begin a journey of a love worthy of an old movie drama that resonates with every hopeless romantic in the audience. For those seeking a modern, tragic love story, this is for you.

All the same, I laughed out loud at their antics; their desperate need to achieve their goals and create a life better than the one they had. Their story may be sad but the means of traveling down this dark path is a riot; it’s such a touching, and amusing story but not light-hearted in a way you’d imagine.

Actress Kira Bradley gives a goofy and fun performance as the frantic and all too real Carol; playing multiple characters, creating voices and physicalities to match. She brought such a warm energy to the stage, I thoroughly enjoyed watching her play.

The same can be said of her co-star David Sklar whose portrayal of Vladmir, was completely charming and smooth – Vlad is a sweet but confused character to portray and I thought Mr. Sklar was well equipped to bring him to life with his innocent smile and tortured statue.
Between Director Mark Bellamy’s character-driven, colourful design and Playwright Aaron Bushkowsky’s grounded words, “After Jerusalem” is an absolute success. I felt a great connection to Mr. Bushkowsky’s admission that his script was based on real experience (and I’m certainly glad real life had a sweeter ending). Very often the phrase “write what you know” is taken a little too literally but in this case, I’m glad that life could inspire such a charming tale.

If you’re able to, I highly recommend this one hour break from reality, to experience this snapshot of whirlwind romance set in a desolate time and place – contemporary Israel. A true modern love story.

“After Jerusalem is only playing until October 8th so I encourage you to head to Lunchbox Theatre while you can.