Pubdate: Wed, 09 Mar 2005
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2005 The StarPhoenix
Author: Cam Fuller, Of The Starphoenix
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Smokescreen is a mellow play that will give you the munchies for group

Roseneath Theatre of Toronto performs the play as part of the Broadway
Theatre Youth Series, a theatre season for young people. The
playwright is David S. Craig, who has tailored the show for ages 12
and up.

Tuesday's matinee drew a large, attentive crowd of teenagers which
laughed at recognition when the main character Trent (Andrew Craig)
came on stage, answered his cellphone with "Yo" and started talking to
a friend about the party the night before. Turns out the police were
called and he was caught trying to flush his inventory of marijuana
down the toilet. Trent is a teenage dope dealer.

The play looks at the issue of pot from Trent's point of view and that
of his father (Stewart Arnott) and social worker Rayzee (Keira
Loughran). The issue is serious but the play thankfully lacks any hint
of sanctimony or earnestness. The jokes are well placed. Trent boasts
at how unfazed he was by being arrested: "I practically slept through
the whole thing. Except for the strip search -- I was awake for that."

His father, playing into your expectations, is just as stubborn and
unreasonable as Trent. Everything he says seems to drive his son
further away. This is a train wreck in the making.

Rayzee has an unenviable job trying to keep the snarling father at bay
while assessing Trent for a court-ordered report. Her client couldn't
be less remorseful. He considers his consumption of four joints a day
to be "average" -- average because sometimes he has more. He doesn't
consider marijuana to be a chemical but a "herb."

"Water is natural but you can still drown in it," says

Throughout their long discussion, Trent comes across as a highly
articulate teen who can comment with authority on everything from
consumerism to foreign policy. It's hard to believe that a real kid
that age would have such oratorical flourish, but it makes for
colourful lines. The one thing that Trent can't get his head around,
however, is culpability. He thinks he's in trouble with the law and
his parents not because he did something wrong but because he got
caught. His father is the cause of his problems because his father
called the police.

The play runs about an hour, which makes it easier to forgive its
complete lack of action. For the most part, all we see are two
characters in chairs speaking. The acting, particularly by Craig who
is highly expressive, was effective enough to hold your attention,

The play stops short of wrapping the issue up in a bow and solving
each character's problems. That's where the post-play discussion comes
in handy. The actors, who stay on stage to answer questions, were put
on the spot by a young man in the crowd who asked if any of them
smoked marijuana and if so if it helped them understand the
characters. Craig spoke up and said yes, but quit and if he hadn't he
doubts he would have been up on stage doing something worthwhile. You
could almost hear the sighs of relief from the teachers in the room.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek