The third play in Theatre St. Thomas’ What’s Next Festival focuses on the employees and customers of a convenience store in small-town Nevada during an emergency quarantine.
And Above All was written by Thomas MacDougall and directed by Samuel Crowell. Crowell said the play is a mix of comedic and dramatic elements.
“I like shows that deal with comedy and still deal with dark subject matter, because I believe that life is very much ups and downs,” said Crowell. “And I think in order to bring people to a place where they can feel things you have to bring them up before they can drop down.”
“I very much believe what Thomas has created is a great example of using humour throughout the whole show, but it still having a good meaningful moment, especially at the end.”
MacDougall said the play is about how we react when things go wrong.
“I think, tonally and kind of what the play is about is making light of a bad situation,” said MacDougall.
MacDougall was inspired to write the play by a piece of literature given to him at his job.
“I worked at a hotel, at the front desk, and the [human resources] person brought one of these little safety pamphlets that said what to do if you were in a robbery,” said MacDougall. “It just kept telling you to stand up straight, just comply and be calm. Just that kind of imagery of saying everything was going to be all smiles, that everything was going to be all right was the kind of notion going into the play.”
The duo said that the play’s use of colour was first and foremost on their minds when creating it.
“When I got the show, I was trying to think of a way that I could get the right feel for it,” said Crowell. “Me and Thomas had talked before about what he thought the show could be. The idea [MacDougall] brought forward was colour. Colour is very important to the show. And that is in the sense that the characters are very colourful.”
“I mentioned that the characters are very archetypal, but he [MacDougall] takes that and expands them, so it’s like because of this emergency situation that they are dealing with you get to see every facet of these characters.”
MacDougall said a lot of the colour inspiration and character archetypes came from things like Clue, Breakfast Club, and Clerks.
“It was just sort of taking a stereotype and examining that under pressure,” said MacDougall.
The What’s Next Play Festival runs from Jan. 31 to Feb 3 in St. Thomas’ Black Box Theatre. Look for the review next week in The Aquinian.