At a certain age, for safety’s sake, you go through life using only your peripheral vision. So as not to see the darkness. Maybe that’s true of any age.
As for Braidie — the teenage girl featured in “Shape of a Girl”— when she chooses to look directly, she finds she knows the way to that dark place, but doesn’t quite know why.
Live drama has returned to the stage in Cranbrook, with Cranbrook Community Theatre’s presentation of Joan MacLeod’s “Shape of a Girl,” a one-actor play based upon the tragic story of Reena Virk, a troubled Vancouver Island 14-year-old teenager who was swarmed and beaten by a group of her peers she was desperate to fit in with, and killed by the two of them in 1997.
“Shape of a Girl,” directed by Amy Penney, opens Friday, Oct. 22, at the Studio Stage Door and runs for six shows over two weekends.
Braidie wanders a beach near her home on Vancouver Island, speaking a monologue to her absent brother Trevor, telling a parallel story to that of Reena Virk, a story in which she played a part. How a misfit teenaged girl, Sophie, desperate to fit in with a clique, attracts the hostility of that clique by her very desperation.
Vision is a key theme to this story. Peripheral vision is most useful to make your way through a world where there’s “a brand new code every day.” Best of all is the “game of being blind,” that you can play with your friends. The process of becoming invisible gives you protection, but if that invisibility breaks, then you are exposed, and a target.
Then there is looking directly at something, where to your shock and dismay, you may see yourself.
Pictured: Cheyanne Kneller in CCT’s “Shape of a Girl.” Kneller and Jelena Jensen are alternating performances in this one-person play, playing Oct. 22-24 and 28-30. Barry Coulter photo
So what is the shape of a girl? As Braidie cites: “Monster in the shape of a girl; girl in the shape of a monster.” Since, by definition, monsters attract the hostility of others, is it Sophie who is the girl in the shape of a monster, and who attracts the hostility of the peer group she wants to be part of? Since, by definition, monsters perform monstrous, anti-human acts, is it Sophie’s tormentors who are the monsters in the shape of a girl?
A one-person show requires great depth of skill from the actor to carry the narrative forward, and carry us along with it. And CCT’s presentation of “Shape of a Girl” features two remarkable actors taking the turn of Braidie: Cheyanne Kneller and Jelena Jensen, who will be playing the part on alternating nights.
Kneller is on stage Friday, Oct. 22 (opening night); Sunday, Oct. 24 (2 pm matinee) and Friday, Oct. 29. Jensen is on stage Saturday, Oct. 23; Thursday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 30.
“Shape of a Girl,” by Joan MacLeod, is directed by Amy Penney, and produced by Jennifer Ingls, Stephanie Kress and Elizabeth Ross.
Tickets are available at www.cranbrookcommunitytheatre.com. Showtimes are 7:30 pm (2 pm Sunday, Oct. 24).
Editors note: This article was written after viewing an preview performance by Cheyanne Kneller. Pictured below: Cheyanne Kneller in CCT’s “Shape of a Girl.” Kneller and Jelena Jensen are alternating performances in this one-person play, playing Oct. 22-24 and 28-30. Barry Coulter photo