Robert Tanitch reviews Nick Green’s Casey and Diana on line

Robert Tanitch reviews Nick Green’s Casey and Diana on line

Nick Green’s Casey and Diana, directed by Andrew Kushnir, had its world première at the Stratford Festival’s Studio Theatre in Ontario, Canada, in June when it was highly praised. It is to be revived in Toronto next year.

The Casey in the title is Toronto’s Casey House, the world’s first HIV/AIDS hospice. People were living and dying in the face of unimaginable pain, isolation and stigma. The hospice’s mantra was and is: “We are here to help men with AIDS. We are here to help them die.”

Playwright Nick Green is also a social worker and his play is a tribute to the kindness, courage and care of Casey House and its nurses and volunteers.

The Diana in the title is the Princess of Wales, who visited the hospice in 1991 and shook hands with the dying patients. Her actions changed public attitudes, dispelled myths about transmission, and helped to remove the stigma. She gave hope.

The play begins seven days before Diana’s visit. The tension comes from wondering if two patients, Thomas and Andre, will be still alive by the time she arrives.

The play is impeccably acted. Sean Arbuckle gives a big bravura performance as Thomas, Casey’s longest resident and a huge fan of Diana. Davinder Malhi is Andre, his likeable young roommate, whose family has thrown him out of the house.

Linda Kash is so good, perfect as Marjorie, a volunteer nurse, emotionally, maternally involved with Andre. Sophia Walker is Vera, the nurse in charge of the hospice, calm under stress. Laura Condlln is Thomas’s estranged sister Pauline, who is freaked out by her brother’s condition.

Princess Diana appears on stage in Thomas’s dreams and in his imagination. Krystin Pellerin has the sensitivity, dignity and understatement the role needs. The final meeting between her and Thomas is a tearjerker; made even more moving by a totally unexpected theatrical twist.

Nick Green’s Casey and Diana can be viewed on the Stratfest@Home channel. To find out more or to watch follow this link.

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