“Going West” set in Maritimes

Writer and director Jake Planinc, a graduate of Mount Allison’s drama program from southern Ontario, accurately portrays working-class and student life in the Maritimes in his newest play “Going West.”

Last Monday and Tuesday evening, students and Sackville community members could catch the one-act play at Ducky’s bar, giving the theatre performance a real Maritime charm. The show appropriately addresses the timely dilemma of moving out west for work, one familiar to many Maritimers.

Planinc, currently living in Halifax with no plans to leave, said, “the Maritimes is much more about the people than Ontario is. It’s a lot friendlier.”

“Going West” tells the story of Michael (played by Alex McGrath), a bar owner who still feels like an outsider in the small New Brunswick town he wants to call home. Michael pours drinks for Donny (Ian McMullen), a good-hearted local who loves to tell drunken hunting stories, while Donny’s wife Laura (Kaylie McGraw) waits for him at home, growing increasingly impatient.

Kaylie Mcgraw (left) and Alex Mcgrath (middle) listen to Ian Mcmullen (right) drunkenly recount tales from the bush. Ryan Macrae/Argosy
Kaylie Mcgraw (left) and Alex Mcgrath (middle) listen to Ian Mcmullen (right) drunkenly recount tales from the bush. Ryan Macrae/Argosy

When Michael’s former roommate Sam (Will Balser) shows up at the bar on a mission to convince Michael to move out west with him, Michael finds that his heart clearly lies in the Maritimes.

“I haven’t had any flack yet about being an outsider and writing a play about the Maritimes, which is what I was afraid of,” Planinc said, referring to the positive reviews from audience members at both Ducky’s and the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

Students Annie Sherry and Xavier Gould attended “Going West.” As lifelong residents of small towns in New Brunswick, they praised the play for its originality and Maritime feel.

“I haven’t seen a Maritime-specific play [before], and I think that it’s wonderful to see a Sackville-set play. And knowing that it’s been touring around is cool, to see that you’re bringing the community of Sackville to other cities,” Sherry said.

“I really liked the way they started the show. No one came up and did an announcement. It was breaking the conformity of theatre by making it super casual. I think that’s important because the show is super casual,” said Gould, a drama major.

Both Sherry and Gould found “Going West” relatable to and reflective of not just Maritime communities, but Sackville more specifically.

“In terms of the text, there were many references to Sackville and it felt as if I was home. Every [character] on stage I was able to relate to someone in my life. I know those people,” Gould said.

Similarly, Sherry said, “I’m a really big fan of Ian McMullen. I thought his character in particular was done so well. The dialogue was really reflective of conversations you even hear here in Sackville. It felt like home to me.”

Planinc currently works with local theatre groups and production companies in Halifax and hopes to rework the show with older actors.

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