In 1989, the New York Times mentioned Fredericton, New Brunswick. During the eighties’ U.S. war against the Colombian cartels, it was newsworthy in such a prominent publication, that a plane with half a ton of cocaine in it had crashed near Fredericton, piloted by two Colombians linked to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The RCMP subsequently arrested four other Latinos in Edmundston. They had been planning to break their colleagues out of prison.
This fantastic news story could have been the scenario for a major Hollywood blockbuster. It’s got all the right ingredients: a plane crash, drugs, Colombians, police, guns, international intrigue. It is not hard to imagine Benicio del Toro playing one of the Colombians given he recently acted in the film Escobar: Paradise Lost (2014).
The Dec. 26, 1989, New York Times story ends with the following quote: “Sparsely populated and with about 90 remote airstrips, New Brunswick is ideal for smuggling. Many of the airstrips are owned by lumber companies or by the Government as a base for fire fighting and are often deserted.” What was the effect of the crash in this ideal place for smuggling? When UNB MA in Creative Writing graduate Emily Bossé decided to tackle the story, she did not focus on its sensationalism.
Instead, Bossé took the scandalous elements (Colombians! Cocaine! Plane Crash!), made them crucial to the intrigue, but only as a backdrop to the run-of-the-mill story of three Fredericton siblings. At first the story lines seem quite straightforward –a young teenager is in love with an older boy, a couple is going through tough times, two dope-dealing stoners try to make a quick buck–but each plot line is affected by aspects of the Colombian plane crash. The play’s denouement reveals the pernicious butterfly effect of the plane crash on the siblings’ lives.
The Next Folding Theatre Company at the Black Box Theatre at St. Thomas University presented Emily Bossé’s full-length play four times to sold-out audiences this past weekend. Jake Martin directed the performance and a cast of eight first-rate actors took on the different roles.
The two Colombians were played by Jean-Michel Cliché and Devin Luke who alternated between believable stereotypical “Latino” accents (with the other characters) and their regular voices in their one-on-one dialogues. Cliché did an outstanding job as a type of jester, bringing in a comedic element to the play, while Luke played the more serious drug lord. At the Saturday, March 7th performance, Laura Gallivan as the young teenager Alexis, and Barry McCluskey, as Jason, the aging jock, also excelled in their performances.
The stage was judiciously divided into four permeable zones: the jail cell in the centre, a teenager’s room, a stoner’s living room and a couple’s kitchen, with characters going from one area to the other. It should be noted that the sound and lighting, directed by Michael Holmes-Lauder, was exceptionally done, as well as the costumes, designed by Bossé herself.
Bossé’s writing is witty and crisp. Her characters are true-to-life and well rendered by the chosen actors. Cliché and Luke’s witty repartee is very entertaining. The play is quite lengthy, however, and could have done with some extra editing or speedier transitions. This is Bossé’s first incursion into theatre but, given she is already an award-winning prose writer, she has a great future ahead. Kudos to the Next Folding Theatre Company for once again keeping theatre local in its premises after last year’s production of Cold Woman: New Brunswick’s Murderess.
Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op.