Brad Fraser’s play Love and Human Remains has found enthusiastic audiences since it premiered in Alberta in 1989, but the show has never made its way to Windsor until this week. The edgy play will make its theatrical debut at Hatch Studio Theatre at the University of Windsor as final year students at the University Players gear up for 10 performances running tonight through March 11.
David (Cole Reid) is a gay waiter who has given up on his acting career and is watching his 20s tick away. Together with his book-reviewing roommate, Candy (Alicia Plummer), he encounters a number of seductive strangers in their search for love, sex and meaning. But the games turn ugly when it appears someone in their group might be a serial killer.
Love and Human Remains was immediately controversial for its violence, nudity, frank dialogue, and sexual explicitness. It was quickly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and was named one of the ten best plays of the year by Time Magazine. The play has been produced worldwide, translated into multiple languages, and received many awards.
“One thing we really see in Windsor is that there are only one or two plays that push any real boundaries,” Plummer told YQG Rocks. “Love and Human Remains is that play this season, and that makes kinda cool to be a part of it. It’s been challenging, but as an actor it’s always fun to be able to see where my limits are – to see if I can maneuver myself around them. The violence and the intimacy are really cool to explore in this show.”
With such an intense concentration on nudity and violence, director Heather Davies said the production is challenging to stage in a university environment:
“Doing this play in a university context within a student setting is very challenging in that we need to take care of the students first and foremost. We want to provide a safe learning environment for them and doing both nudity and violence on stage is what we call “heightened risk” moments. It is really an exceptional area of their training. It’s wonderful for them to have the opportunity to explore those conversations, but the thing is that both of those elements are an illusion to make it look like it’s violent, and deeply sexual.”
Plummer wasn’t sure what to expect when planning and training began for the show, but she worked her way through the role and learning to deal with edgier content.
“We discussed the nudity as a cast and director and eventually we had to work our way through it,” she revealed. “Everyone had their own different process with different scenes, but there was a time when it just happened and we had an agreement process. We had an intimacy coach come in and work us through some things, plus we also had a movement coach come in, so it was a bit by bit process. It wasn’t like we all got naked on the first day. We each had discussions on what we are comfortable with and what we are not comfortable with and also on what we are working towards being comfortable with – it was a process.”
Reid also embraced the challenges that David faces in the show:
“A big part of our curriculum is challenging ourselves and this show has been really, really challenging for us, but in a rewarding way. I’ve been on stage in underwear before, but this show has forced us to get out of our comfort zone and explore a different part of acting. Interestingly, there’s a different sensibility and reconciling that happens between what we experience in our generation and what the people from that generation have gone through. We really try to explore that and make it recognizable for our generation.”
Love and Human Remains is for mature audiences only and contains warnings about graphic language, sexuality, nudity and mature subject matter. It opens to night with a performance at 8pm and continues with shows in Saturday and Sunday, as well as Wednesday to Sunday next week. Saturday and Sunday matinee shows are scheduled for 2pm. Tickets are available at universityplayers.com.