The Particulars is a one man show about existentialism and natural bug spray

Monday 10th, November 2014 / 14:27
By Maya-Roisin Slater
Photo: Devin Kerrington

Photo: Devin Kerrington

VANCOUVER — In the back table at a roadside beef noodle house, actor Nathan Barrett and director Jamie King sit with thick strands of udon protruding from their lips. Barrett blinks ferociously and explains he got a splash of the spicy broth in his eyeball, King suggests we leave. We cross the street to their rehearsal space, a grey nondescript room owned by the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre. Without much fuss rehearsals begin, King explains to the sound designer that the show will start with thunder, flashing lights, and the song Dies Irae. The play they’re in the midst of putting together is called The Particulars, written by Matthew Mackenzie.

The show’s focus is Gordon, a church going vegan man who exercises regularly and keeps a vegetable garden. He deals with the grief of his dead fiance by taking care of himself in all the ways popular culture recommends. The show is written in third person with witty banter and rapid rhythmic dialogue possessing an almost poetic nature. The incredibly detailed, dry, clever, and unassuming study of Gordon illustrates a bittersweet existential picture of our daily lives and the peculiar way tragedy can affect the most benign aspects of them.

Barrett says the play is an example of how not to grieve, “Our protagonist lives a really typical life that people can relate to in an unpleasant way. He still finds joy in small things but he’s lost the magic in a nine-to-five.”

King agrees and adds, “There’s a tendency to shut everything off when dealing with death, Gordon has shut himself into a little box and isn’t living his life. This results in him getting kicked back into the world in a brutal way.”

This is King’s first time directing a one man show, which has presented some difficulties for her. “The scariest thing is all my experience comes from two or three or four handers predominantly. With this play the challenge is finding new ways to get energy from the show, often actors get their power from someone they’re onstage with. So getting that consistent energy without instigation is what’s been the most challenging for me. Luckily in this show we really get to play with the idea of using the audience as another character.”

Keeping a one man show engaging and impactful is a difficult task as it’s stripped of all the bells and whistles, exposing the core elements of live theatre. King and Barrett are working in their poorly lit small rehearsal space with this challenge in mind, they’re putting on a play that will make you laugh while delivering an important life lesson with a no bullshit attitude. King touches on this lesson: “Gordon’s lost all the art and beauty to his life. It’s easy to block yourself off from opportunity because it’s risky, but that’s where all the beauty in the world comes from, this play is about someone who’s shut off from that idea. If we want people to take anything away from this show it’s that we shouldn’t live like that, it may be a stable life, but it isn’t a good one.”

The Particulars will be at the PAL Theatre from November 11-16, tickets can be purchased here,, or at the door.

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