Artistic director Estelle Shook said it best: art should make you laugh, think and feel.
Shook wrangled a heard of actors and crew members together for Law of the Land, a classic Caravan Farm Theatre farce revived from the depths of 1982.
Featuring some of the same talent who graced the grassy stage in the ’80s, Law of the Land has lost none of its electric sizzle over the past 36 years.
Set in a fictional British Columbia boom prior to the Black Creek Coal Fired Thermal Generating Power Plant’s grand opening, playwright Peter Anderson penned the production as BC Hydro was in the proposal process for the coal-fired thermal generating plant in Hat Creek.
It’s a world where animals judge humans and all are vying to write the law of the land. And, despite its obvious and intentional exaggerations, Anderson’s posed question rings true today amidst the revolving door of rhetoric surrounding both the Site C Dam and Trans Mountain Pipeline.
In Anderson’s fiction, delegates from China, the United States and Russia are in town to consider lending a financial hand to the spineless politician Robert Bomber, played to perfection by Caravan alum Colin Heath who puts his acrobatics on display at various points throughout the two-hour production, while local cowgirl and spinster Clara (Randi Helmers of Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw Hellhound fame) refuses to uproot and allow the plant to overtake her ranch.
Tensions rise as Law of The Land’s Don Quixote the Coal Ranger a.k.a. Will (Aren Okemaysim) and a band of animal bandits led by one wily Coyote (Anderson) get their hands, and paws, dirty.
However, such as it is in real life, the true hero of Law of the Land is often unsung: the local fuzz Brenda.
Brought to life by Naomi Vogt, Brenda is the soot-covered top-star of Law of the Land who brings the production to life both with her narrative-driving dialogue and sheer hilarious deadpan delivery.
Anderson is the other sly star of the story. He fits the role so well, it’s almost as if he wrote it himself.
Betwixt the two, and the slew of other talented troupes, laughs ebb and flow as plot points unravel and story winds its way across the stage and the sun glides across the North Okanagan sky.
Caravan Farm Theatre fits the Law of the Land locale to a tee. It’s a serene setting complete with rolling tree-covered hills and cows watching from across the fields. It’s a truly unique storytelling experience.
While Law of the Land initiates dialogue around environmentalism and economic booms, it doesn’t shove it into the limelight or force an opinion down a gullet like a hand press minces garlic. Despite its poignant discussion, Law of the Land is, at its core, a farce meant to entertain.
That’s what Caravan Farm Theatre does best. Anderson and John Millard’s production hit the proverbial artistic nail outlined by Shook on the head.
Because, at the end of the day, dreams have more power than high tension lines.
Law of the Land runs at Caravan Farm Theatre until Aug. 26. Tickets are available through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. Regular Aug. 4-26 are $35, $33 and $15 respectively. “Pay what you can nights” are Aug. 7, 14 and 21 and are no reservations, first-come-first-served. Bring blankets or cushions for the bleacher seats. Tailgate picnics encouraged.