Refuge of Lies

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in religion, war-history, or local theatre.

Arts Arts and Culture Brian Webb

This article was published on April 13th, 2010

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to see, Refuge of Lies at the Pacific Theatre. This play is a rendition of the off-broadway performance, Refuge, which played in September 2008 at the Lion Theatre on 42nd Street in New York.

This was my first visit to the Pacific Theatre. It is located in the lower-level of the Anglican Church at 1440 West 12 Avenue in Vancouver, B.C. The theatre is very quaint, holding about 100 people. The stage is uniquely positioned in the centre, with the the audience being spit in half on either side in theatre-style seating. I must admit, it was an intimate atmosphere all things considered.

Refuge of Lies is a play based on actual events. The Pacific Theatre’s describes the production:

Rudi Vanderwaal is a quietly retired man whose religious conversion may hide terrible wartime secrets. When a Dutch journalist travels to Vancouver to confront him with the realities of his past, memory and fantasy, dream and nightmare collide in a searing vision of guilt and the cost of redemption.

About five minutes into the production is quickly realized that this was not a play about war-crimes, but rather about religion. I felt it to be very unappealing, however, I felt I should give it a chance to redeem itself.

As the performance continued going through various scene, bouncing from past to present, from one story-line to the next, it was very confusing. It was about the half-way point that I could finally follow-along with what the playwright, Ron Reed, was trying to convey.

The intermission came three-quarters of the way through. I scanned the crowd and it was mostly older folks who I would imagine would be regular church-goers, and much to my surprise, about one-third were under the age of 35.

Throughout the play religion vs mans-law is debated heavily; should someone be punished for something they did over 50 years ago, or does being baptized wash away your sins. At the end, they never answered the question (you’ll have to watch the performance to see how the get out of that one!). I’m sure I wasn’t the only one left questioning what would be the right answer.

There’s a strong undertone that religion and war go hand-in-hand.

One of the characters was a female who would was in her younger adult years – mature, aware of society and morals and educated. I really sided with her – that the past is in the past – we need to move on, look towards the future. Sure, we can learn from the past, but why hold grudges.

Overall, I thought the acting was fairly decent. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in religion, war-history, or local theatre.

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