Peace River Country, Tarragon Theatre

The vivid efficacy of theatre is delicately refined in Peace River Country where Christian optimism has its limitations.  From left to right Layne Coleman as Dad, Benjamin Sutherland as Joe, Janet Laine Green as Mom and Sarah Sherman as Jemima are the oil & gas industry’s new nemesis.


Why is it that makes a good person do bad things? Or is it even possible for conduct to be defined as bad when someone is inherently good to begin with?

Those are some of the questions enthralled theatregoers are pondering after experiencing Peace River Country, a powerful and explosive drama where might is by no means right when a community is left at the mercy of big companies, the media, and government to bring about a solution to a problem no one acknowledges even exists.

Reflecting all the narrative characteristics from eco-activist Wiebo Ludwig’s clash with Alberta sour gas well producers which resulted in a conviction and time served for sabotage, playwright Maria Milisavjlevic heroic tale doesn’t preach or waste a moment of time on the poisonous thought process behind the environmentally irresponsible. Instead she shares the tormented family’s right to stand its ground in emotionally charged detail.

‘I’m fighting to take back what they took from us,’ rationalizes a spiritually weary father.

Not only do these ten words illustrate the victoryless battle with the outside world but also the subjugating conflict brewing within themselves.

Director Richard Rose selects an absolutely perfect cast and relies on a lighting resource strategy to make this feel like anywhere but the Extraspace. It’s impossible not to be hit with the palpable sense of urgency when the central character looks directly at you to please his case in this notably organic staging.

The production just wouldn’t be the same without the legendary Layne Coleman to embrace the God fearing values of the land loyalist family head. The actor’s irregular line rhythm is almost compressed the same kind of distinction as Hollywood great Christopher Walken.

Missing this one is best compared to missing your own funeral. Although it may somehow be possible, it’s definitely not desirable.


PEACE RIVER COUNTRY by Maria Milisavljevic Feb 7 – March 19, 2017 TARRAGON THEATRE, 30 Bridgman Avenue, Toronto TICKETS $29.00 – $65.00 416-531-1827 CAST Layne Coleman, Janet Laine Green, Sarah Sherman and Benjamin Sutherland DIRECTOR Richard Rose SOUND DESIGN John Gzowski LIGHTING Jason Hand SET COSTUMES & VIDEO Curtis Wehrfritz STAGE MANAGER Nicola Benidickson

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