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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The Valley explores painful subjects

Tags: Arts
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Ian Lake [Cylla von Tiedemann photo]

The Valley,  Joan MacLeod’s latest play, explores the unexpected shared lives of strangers.

The play revolves around Connor, a troubled 18-year-old, who moves in with his mother. One day he is arrested on Vancouver’s SkyTrain by a police officer who is also dealing with the effects of mental health issues within his own home.

Directed by Tarragon Theatre’s artistic director Richard Rose, the Toronto premiere of The Valley runs from Nov. 6 until Dec. 15 at Tarragon’s Mainspace.

 “Ultimately the play is about healing,  about the difficulty in healing and the different stages of healing,” explains Stratford Festival veteran Ian Lake, who plays the 30-year-old officer, Dan Mulano.

“He’s got a wife and a five-month-old baby at home.  He’s trying to be a good man, father, cop and husband and it’s hard. He has a wife who is suffering from depression and he doesn’t quite fathom the depths that it exists at and thinks its post-partum, hormones from pregnancy, having just had a baby or just being tired from not sleeping,” Lake, who prepared for the role by spending time with Stratford police officers, says.

“He just tries to fix things as any good man will want to do. What he learns as the play progresses is that the problem goes deeper than that and it is not just offering a solution... and that it is more of a disease than just a choice.”

Lake says the play explores how humanity exists in all of us and how we all need people to understand our pain and not try to fix it.

“I think this is a subject that has a stigma about it, that people don’t want to acknowledge when depression really exists in their life or household and I would hope that we can take that stigma down a little bit and just tell the story on a very common, human level and have people connect to that.”

Susan Coyne plays Sharon, Connor’s mother, Colin Mercer plays Connor and Michelle Monteith is Mulano’s wife, Janie.

“When I come to work I feel like we have an embarrassment of riches in this play – the actors, the director Richard Rose and our writer Joan MacLeod who has written such a wonderful piece that I find very real,” says Lake.  “It is a nice experience to be working in a room full of such gifted people.”

Many of Lake’s first performances were on stage at the Peretz Centre, a Jewish community centre in Vancouver where he grew up in a secular home. 

“I did my Birthright a few years ago and the thing I really connected to was there’s real performance energy in our culture, and I mean that in a very positive way.  There’s a real vitality that I think is very infectious and I’m very proud to try and connect to that side of my Jewish self in my adult life.  I think there is that fire in the blood that exists in my family; a feistiness which I think has really translated into who I am as a performer.”

His extensive theatre training includes the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre and the University of Victoria BFA Theatre Program.

Lake just wrapped up his sixth season at the Stratford Festival—performing in Mary Stuart, Measure for Measure, and Othello. In 2009, Lake garnered Stratford Festival’s Michael Mawson Award, awarded annually to a graduate of the festival’s training program.

Lake also appeared on stage in This is War, For This Moment Alone, Amadeus, Schoolhouse, Lost Heir and Much Ado About Nothing.  On film and TV, he was seen in Bomb Girls, Pulling Rank, Flashpoint, Caesar and Cleopatra, SPIT, and He Was Perfectly Fine.

For tickets to The Valley, call the box office at 416-531-1827 or visit www.tarragontheatre.com

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