Arts Theatre

Chance encounters

// Mat Busby
// Mat Busby

Even if you never met Ned Plate when he first came through town—back in 2001’s Sterling award-winning Fringe hit, Citizen Plate—you still probably know the guy. Or at least the kind of guy—Jana O’Connor certainly did.

“One of the things I loved about Ned was he was just someone who was so real and relatable, and someone that my dad probably works with,” she says with a laugh that comes to her honest and easy. “My dad’s an electrician up north. And [Ned’s] just someone that I know that everyone can relate to in some way or another: their relative, or their colleague.”

Back in Citizen Plate, O’Connor played Ned’s psychiatrist as he waded through a triple crisis: loss of love, loss of job and loss of truck. But now, in its decade-later sequel Lucy and Mr Plate that comes as part of the Teatro La Quindicina season, she finds herself the one in crisis: a childhood friend of Ned’s whom he encounters while on vacation.

“She’s in constant crisis mode,” O’Connor says. “And he gets to be the one that offers his insights, from his simple and clear way of seeing life. Last time my character was helping him see his way through a tough time, and now he’s the one doing that.”

O’Connor, who admits that improv is her first love—though The Lonely Hearts, a play she penned that went up at last summer’s Fringe, currently has a Sterling nomination to its name—helped write the script for Lucy alongside Ned’s original creator, Jeff Haslam, and Stewart Lemoine (who also directs here).

Haslam drafted the script, and then the trio fleshed it out further, a collaborative process that O’Connor found gratifying to be a part of.

“We all came with ideas, and contributed bits, and worked it together,” she says. “One of the things I love is that so much of Stewart’s writing, and Jeff’s writing, is that so much comes from little moments that are connected to something real that happened that just struck them as odd or funny or memorable. And that’s been fun for me too, to go ‘Oh, OK, well this totally reminds me of this thing that happened to me,’ and then finding the way to make that work into the world of the play, is really fun.” 

Until Sat, Jun 28 (7:30 pm; 2 pm Saturday matinee)
Directed by Stewart Lemoine
Varscona Theatre, $16 – $30


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