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“Imagination rules the world” [Napoleon] and Possible Worlds

Possible Worlds
By John Mighton
Arcana Theatre
Directed by Valerie Cotic
Played by John McKenzie, Jane Graham, John Turner, Michael Rooyakkers, Allan Pero, Sarah Abbott, Michael James Brown
The ARTS Project
July 28-30; Aug. 2-6, 8 p.m. 

Canadian playwright John Mighton’s Possible Worlds won the 1992 Governor General's Award for Drama. In 2001 it was adapted into a Genie Award-winning film directed by Robert LePage, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom McCamus.

No surprise here. The script is the star of this production.

A man (John McKenzie) who possesses an unusual level of awareness, not only understands that people exist in parallel worlds at once, but also is able to experience several of his alternate lives at once, even remembering what happened on one plane of existence while functioning in another.
With his background in math and philosophy, John Mighton has a solid understanding of possibility and potential, sequence and pattern as they relate to the scientific, social and ethical aspects of life.

The play has been called a sci-fi tragic drama. Preview night, it played out for the audience more like a sci-fi comedy – and delightfully so. I wonder if director Valerie Cotic realized just how amusing the dialogue, delivery and goings on would be. In my opinion, she wisely had the actors deliver their lines as straight as possible. No double takes. Just say the great lines a good writer has given you.

The actors acquitted themselves nicely. John Turner, as the world-weary detective, could phone in his performance, but doesn’t. He solidly anchors the show in believability.

The lighting, set design, props deserve special mention. I also thought the scene changes (there are many for this play) were creative and fast paced.

Although the plot may seem discontinuous and hard to follow at times, for the most part I navigated my way through all Possible Worlds.

By the way, you might know the playwright from his bit part in Good Will Hunting. Mighton had written a book on the idea of The Myth of Ability, which is that most people never get a chance because a teacher doesn't take the time to show them how to learn (Mighton has put his time where his mouth is: for the past several years, he has coordinated JUMP, a successful school program designed to tutor children who are having difficulties in math.) Mighton delivers a line about that very topic in the film. More importantly, Mighton advised Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck on the script for Good Will Hunting. Too bad he didn’t advise Terrence Malick on his script for The Tree of Life.

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