The relationship in theatre between the audience and the artist can best be described as a tacit agreement between all parties. Under the terms of the agreement, a bare table is a hospital bed, a bowl of oranges is a nest of tumors, and the stage itself becomes a shifting point that can be anywhere at all – as long as everyone agrees. For that agreement to hold, the artists need to gain the audience’s trust, either by sincerity or pure bluff.
That agreement is really what The Story of Mr. Wright is about. How is it created? How is it upheld? What happens when that agreement breaks down? And more intriguingly, if the artists deliberately violate the unspoken contract, is it truly broken, or just reconstituted anew?
A collaboration between the Globe Young Theatre Company and Halifax’s 2b theatre, The Story of Mr. Wright takes us back to the 1950s and into the case hisstory of a patient who makes a startling recovery from cancer under the auspices of a miracle drug – a drug which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be worthless. When Mr. Wright discovers that his miracle cure is fraudulent, the tumors return. In the course of trying to save Wright’s life, the doctor resorts to unorthodox methods.
The play intersperses the drama with a series of monologues from the cast, relating stories of medical trauma and recovery from their own lives and ruminating on the relationship between our bodies and our beliefs. Each cast member displays evidence attesting to the truth of their stories – a scar, a missing toe, a tattoo, a bag full of medication – but there is a deliberate game being played with the audience. “Do you see it?” they ask. “Do you see it?” And perhaps we do. I’m still not sure what I saw.
The Story of Mr. Wright is playing tonight at 8:00 pm at the Globe Theatre as part of the Shumiatcher Sandbox Series. For ticket purchases and more information, visit the Globe Theatre’s web site.