Citadel Theatre: “Extinction Song”

When I heard last year that Ron Pederson would be gracing the Citadel Theatre stage in the spring, that was all the information I needed to buy tickets to Extinction Song, the final play in the Rice Season Series. One of my Teatro la Quindicina favourites (even though he doesn’t reside in Edmonton any longer, and hasn’t for quite some time), I was interested in seeing Pederson in a very different role. He didn’t disappoint. From the website:

“Meet James. Seven years old, he has escaped to a fantasy world where he is being raised by wolves. Every day is a new adventure until, frightened they are on the verge of becoming extinct, James and the wolves concoct a plan to save themselves. Extinction Song is a funny, tender and heartbreaking account of a child’s way of coping with the troubled world around him.”

I was totally taken into James’ world – at times terrifying, at times mystical. I was especially captivated at the point in the play when the character sees himself soaring through the air with his wolf pack, and with the help of lighting and sound, was able to imagine his flight and freedom. That moment was so pure that I desperately hoped, alongside James, that the magical innocence of childhood could be real.

I typically do not enjoy one-man shows (particularly when they lean towards drama and not comedy), but this was a well-paced production, with a fine balance between the lighthearted and more serious moments (James had literal names for many things, such as the “ding-dong-Avon-calling-lady”). Pederson had excellent timing, a dead-on stern tone for the father, and maintained a near frenetic energy throughout the ninety minute play without intermission.

The set was notable as well – the bedroom – from the furniture to the door frame – was set to scale to allow the audience to see Pederson as a small boy. The overhanging tree branches that lined his bedroom walls were an ethereal touch.

Extinction Song runs until April 19. See it while you can.

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