Léo: challenging, infuriating, annoyingly introspective & inspiring
- Written by Jamie-Lee Wilson
By Rosa Laborde
Directed by Shannon Charnock
Played by Kevin Milne, Colin Anderson, and Kalina Hada-Lemon
The ARTS Project
Continuing run Sept. 12-15 8 p.m., 1 p.m. matinee Sept. 15
Playwright Rosa Laborde’s plays are garnering attention across Canada. Her political drama Léo, mounted twice at Tarragon Theatre before touring Canada, was nominated for five Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play and was also a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and received a reading at Playwright’s Horizons in NYC this past March.
Léo stars Kevin Milne, Colin Anderson, and Kalina Hada-Lemon as the three friends whose innocence, idealism, and very existence is affected (and ultimately stolen by) the tumultuous winds of political change in Salvadore Allende’s Chile.
The play begins with 11-year-old Léo, with his friends Rodrigo and Isolda, “burying their secrets in the ground” in an innocent game. Léo speaks of his father’s ‘disappearing’ in the Bermuda triangle for the first time.
As they grow up, the political, sexual, and literary passions of the three friends unfold and interweave with the backdrop of socialist idealism gone wrong, and the very real and direct effects it has on the lives of the friends and their families. Léo, the talented poet, observes and reflects on the world he inhabits, but tries his best to remain aloof from it. Rodrigo, the idealistic politician becomes very much involved with events affecting the country, but fails to recognize the flaws that are undermining the ideal. Isolda, never having found a direction of her own, is swept along in the tides of change.
The play is set in Santiago, before the election of Salvatore Allende, ending after Allende’s assassination and the military overthrow of his socialist government in 1973. Although Leo’s greatest desire has been to be “seen,” it is only then that Léo himself learns what it means to become one of the desaparecido (disappeared).
Performances by Kevin Milne, Colin Anderson, and Kalina Hada-Lemon were authentic; as charming, challenging, infuriating, annoyingly introspective, and inspiring as young people often are. Sound and lighting were spot on – a particularly important part of the production since there are no props or sets of any kind.
A bittersweet tale of youth and idealism abruptly snuffed out of existence, Léo brings the ‘desaparecido’ back into the light of being ‘seen’.
Jamie-Lee Wilson is a mild mannered Project Manager by day and crime fighter by night (if you consider teenage children who spend their time watching reality T.V. and eating Kraft dinner and wieners a crime). She grew up in Toronto where she attended York University. Jamie moved to London in search of cheaper parking.