Review: 'The Watershed' at Theatre Junction

Vicki Trask

  • OnStage Calgary Critic

Documentary theatre is a genre I rarely see these days. And with all the political commentary surfacing this season, I was worried that I’d get more political venting than social education. I think Theatre Junction’s latest production of “The Watershed” exceeded my expectations. Playwright Annabel Soutar told the story that she wanted to tell without pigeonholing her script into one subject matter. It was educational, and real – with no purposeful dramatics. There was no sensationalizing and so it fit the documentary genre perfectly.

“The Watershed”, in conjunction with Porte Parole (Montreal) and Crow’s Theatre (Toronto), is about playwright Annabel Soutar and her family as they start by investigating Canada’s water resources and end up on a political, ecological, and economic exploration. Text is taken directly from recorded conversations and the actors are playing real people in this three hour production.

Actors Bruce Dinsmore, Virgilia Griffith, Alex Ivanovici, Molly Kidder, Kimwun Perehinec, Eric Peterson, Liisa Repo-Martell, and Brenda Robins play every character from Prime Minister Harper, to small children, to “The Watershed” director Chris Abraham. Not knowing these people personally, I think the actors did a really good job of coming in and out – especially when some of the changes were as simple as putting on a different pair of glasses.

The sets were functional – though I think transitions would have been made easier if there had been a stage right wing and entrance created – and told the story and setting without requiring too much work. This show is three hours long and some of the actors barely left the stage so I applaud their skill.

I learned a lot and I know from listening to the women behind me that the contents started a conversation – which is one of my criteria for great theatre – so I think “The Watershed” accomplished what it came to Calgary to do: talk about real issues in Canada.