Engaging, immersive and hilarious describe the unique story told by the cast of Coal Mine Theatre’s production of Detroit. The theatre is an intimate space which makes for a uniquely immersive experience. The seating and ambience allow the audience to feed off the energy of this dynamic cast, through this engaging story about love, friendship and personal growth.
Detroit is a darkly comic play, perfect for summer with its backdrop set to a series of cookouts. It follows the story of two couples, Mary and Ben (Diana Bentley and Sergio Di Zio) and Sharon and Kenny (Louise Lambert and Craig Lauzon) as they embark on a new friendship. Sharon and Kenny are both recovering from substance abuse, while Mary and Ben appear to have their life “together”. As the story unfolds the audience learns these couples have more in common than initially perceived. There are quirky moments scattered throughout this play pulling the audience in – from Ben and Kenny’s barbecuing real steaks and burgers to Frank’s (Eric Peterson) poetic monologues. The cast keeps you entertained from start to finish.
Detroit touches on a reality many Torontonians have faced as a result of the pandemic – socializing, isolation and learning to navigate relationships post pandemic. What is interesting to note is this play was written by Lisa D’Amour in 2009 following the fallout of both the 2008 financial crisis in the US and the destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These themes were underlying factors in D’Amour’s thought process. D’Amour notes, “… I was writing during the economic crisis when a lot of people were unemployed … and I had many family members who had to redo their homes after the storm, so the idea of destruction and rebirth were very much on my mind.” As for the unique name, D’Amour offers its relation to “… a particular anxiety the name the city evokes … as a symbol of the American dream drying up”. Detroit originally premiered in Chicago in 2010 and has received both an Obie Award and Pulitzer Prize nomination.
Director, Jill Harper, offers a similar re-evaluation to one many Americans had to do in the wake of the financial crisis, is being amplified on a global scale following the Covid pandemic. Harper notes, “ … it is impossible to ignore how the last two years have shaped the world around us, our lives and our very selves”. Detroit encourages the audience to be reflexive through humour. Harper posits, “Like the characters in the play, we are now all looking at our lives – which for many of us has been fundamentally shaken, changed or torn down – and choosing how we want to emerge from the rubble … choosing how we want to move forward and who we want to be“.
The audience will identify with elements of each character and find humour in the realness of Detroit.
The immersive nature of the theatre, the ambience and the energy of the cast will draw the audience into the lives of this quintuple. Detroit is currently running from July 10- August 10 at Coal Mine Theatre, located on the Danforth (1454 Danforth Road).