Andrea del Campo and Tracy Penner in "Eden" (Janet Shum)
Bajer’s production makes superb use of video, projected onto three screens at the back of the stage. Jordan Popowich’s elegantly shot footage nearly steals the show from the actors on stage.
—Joff Schmidt, Theatre reviewer
Winnipeg playwright Hope McIntyre takes on a lot with Eden, her full-length drama making its world premiere this week through her theatre company, Sarasvati Productions.
Against the background of an Orwellian future, she explores issues of truth, propaganda, freedom, justice, and Aboriginal issues.
It's ambitious, but the end result seems to suggest that she may simply be tackling too much with Eden.
The ironically-titled play takes us to a totalitarian state of the near future. The ruling government maintains control through propaganda and brutal law enforcement, following a bombing 30 years earlier which the government claims was the work of "Aboriginal terrorists."
If any of this sounds familiar, it's not coincidental - from the jingoistic name of the government's anti-terrorism crackdown ("Operation Infinite Freedom") to news crawls that issue dire warnings like "Terrorists threaten to ruin our way of life!", Eden aims to exaggerate - but not by all that much - the western reaction to terrorism post-9/11.
There's great potential for interesting questions in this premise - are those in hiding from the government terrorists, or freedom fighters? How far can a government go in suppressing freedom in an effort to guarantee safety? And how can ordinary people fight a corrupt system?
Unfortunately, Eden's biggest problem is a script that lacks the subtlety to address those questions in a dramatically interesting way. Too many of the characters are more stock types than credible people (heroes and villains - and there's little in between here - include the feisty teenage protagonist, the villainous military agent, and the conflicted soldier).
There's a late-show revelation that seems intended to cast shades of grey over everything that's preceded it, but besides being too implausible, it's also too little and too late to make Eden compelling.