Ruination: see three dark secrets become one Alberta story. A Fringe review

Marc Ludwig in Ruination: 3 short stories. Photo by Nathaniel Hehir.

By Liz Nicholls,

Ruination: 3 short stories (Stage 3, Walterdale Theatre)

This triptych of monologues by Michele Vance Hehir takes us to the world of Depression era small-town Alberta. And the beauty of it is the subtle, unobtrusive way a dramatic story — from three different perspectives — gradually emerges, bit by bit, from the threads of its dropped hints, and asides, and little shards of memory.

It’s a story of immigration, of money to be made, of rigid proprieties, casual racism, good ol’ prairie thuggery. And it’s built in ways that spell doom for outsiders.

Central to Ruination is a fire: Mr. Wong’s laundromat has burned to the ground. First, in Lydia, Lydia, we meet a prim milliner (Julie Goloski), in a state of high agitation.  “I have to pull myself together,” she declares, taking a sip of whiskey from a flask. Her son, she tells us, has told her “I think I’m in trouble.”

In the course of telling how she acquired this adoptive son, en route from her native England to the prairies, she lets slip a remark about a young girl.

We meet that vulnerable, now slightly unhinged, person in the second monologue, Ruination. And Glory (Alyson Dicey) is in a state of red-alert crisis too, for other but related reasons. It’s a little story of religion, revenge, and reputation. And it has links to Lydia’s monologue.

The third monologue, The Pee Pee Boy, belongs to Lydia’s son Ambrose (Marc Ludwig), who’s been talked about in the first two, and is now trapped.  

You can tell I’m being evasive with the plot, which is yours to discover when you go to see it. But I can tell you that the story is fused to characters with fatal secrets. 

So, three people, connected to each other and up against it: a little mystery that, as it gets revealed, sheds a harsh light on a harsh time and place. It’s an intriguing little piece, artfully constructed, and acted with commitment. 

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