Bas Bleu Theatre’s ‘Waiting for the Parade’ falls short with a lack of connection between the characters

Claire Oliver

The set design of John Murrell’s ‘Waiting for the Parade’ directed by Ami Dayan and Lou Anne Wright. Presented by Bas Bleu Theatre company. (Claire Oliver | Collegian)

Bas Bleu Theatre’s production of John Murrell’s “Waiting for the Parade” was underwhelming with a few moments of tension between the actors and the audience. 

Overall, the play left me wanting something more from the stories and from the actresses. I left the theatre wondering why the women on stage were friends at all. The connection between the characters just wasn’t there, but the individual performances were heartwarming and gut wrenching practically at the same time. 

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Murrell’s play centers around 5 women whose male counterparts, husbands, sons, friends and the like, are off at war. The time period is roughly from the middle of the war to the end, so early 1940s and onward.  Each story is a true testimony Murrell recorded from women in Canada after the war was over. 

Walking in, I was expecting to see several Rosie the Riveters to be walking around on stage, but what I got was multiple different stories that represented a wide range of women each with different perspectives on the war. Of course, this play was set in Canada, so the war on the home front was slightly different than in the United States. And since I don’t know much about Canada’s involvement in World War II, I tried to keep an open mind. 

The stories themselves were really interesting. First was Catherine whose husband, Billy, was in the war and becomes more distant as the fighting continues.

Next was Janet who is an older woman that helps serve on committee boards and with “at home” training for women. Her husband works for Texaco and does announcements about the war effort as it progresses.

 

Walking in I was expecting to see several Rosie the Riveters to be walking around on stage, but what I got was multiple different stories that represented a wide range of women each with different perspectives on the war. 

 

Eve is married to an older gentleman who can’t fight in the war but does his best to help out, driving Eve mad while doing it. 

The last two were the ones that stood out for me, not only because of their stories but because both actresses took it a step further and really connected with the characters. 

First is Margret, played by Wendy Ishii. She lives with her two sons, one who has enlisted and is now off to fighting and the other who is right on the edge of being able to enlist. Ishii does a wonderful job with the religious aspect of Margret’s character, getting on her knees to pray several times throughout the performance. But the main struggle Margret deals with is loneliness, and Ishii really captured that feeling during her performance.

The other stand out of the show was Ellen Badger who played Marta, a girl of German dissent whose father is sent to a “camp,” because of German propaganda found in his basement.  Marta is isolated from the other women, because she is German and speaks the language, but Catherine takes her under her wing and allows her to be a part of the group. 

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Badger really captured Marta’s subtle frustrations due to prejudice, and during her monologues, I couldn’t help but feel angry about the way people were treating her. Her anguish and sadness were present, and I was completely connected to her when she was speaking. 

Unfortunately, the show wasn’t really captivating, at least not until the end. There were some lines that seemed to be asking for laughs, but none came. And the connections between the women seemed forced by the actresses. I didn’t really believe that they were all coming together to support one another. 

One thing that saved the production was the amazing set and costume design. It was magnificent. Each woman had her own part of the stage covered with a sheer curtain with their loved one’s picture on the front. It was a wonderful representation of the shadows each man left behind. Upstage was entirely covered in what I assume was lace, which just looked really cool paired with the lighting design. 

The costumes were all period, and I loved how each one fit the specific woman well. There were light colors for Eve to showcase her innocence and youth in comparison to her older husband, and there were darker colors for Janet, Margret and Catherine to give off a more maternal look. Marta wore plaid skirt making her the stand out of the bunch. 

Overall, the play was decent. The stories were good, but the funny lines were lost with awkward overacting and forced camaraderie. Each actress seemed to really find herself in the play as it went on, but I wish I could have seen more connection between each character throughout. 

My Rating: C

The show runs Thursdays through Sundays until March 4. For tickets and information visit Bas Bleu’s website at: www.basbleu.org

Collegian reporter Claire Oliver can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @claire_oliver21.