New play explores the perils of modern dating

There are a lot of single people in the Yukon. If you're single yourself, of course, you might feel like you're the only one. But you're not.

There are a lot of single people in the Yukon. If you’re single yourself, of course, you might feel like you’re the only one. But you’re not. Really.

The Yukon has one of the highest rates of unmarried people in the country, according to 2011 census data. The territory also had the dubious distinction of having the country’s highest divorce rate back in 2008, the last time anybody checked.

Basically, there are a lot of single people here. And that’s one of the reasons that Whitehorse’s newest theatre company chose to debut with Fiona Sprott’s Often I Find That I Am Naked, a provocative comedy about a 40-something single woman looking for Mr. Right.

“It’s a very human story, and it’s a story that a lot of people are experiencing,” said Katherine McCallum, who stars as Jezebel and is also the show’s producer. “Particularly after we’ve had kids or been married. I think going back into the singles scene and learning how to date again is… a very current phenomenon and dilemma that a lot of people are living. And particularly in Whitehorse.”

Jezebel, according to director Eva Hamburg, is a “sophisticated and beautiful woman who is successful and able in all areas of her life – apart from this one area.” The show is a series of monologues and vignettes that tell of Jezebel’s often-disastrous forays into the world of modern dating.

As the title would suggest, Often I Find That I Am Naked doesn’t pull any punches. It deals openly with sex, alcohol, online dating and those awkward, cringe-worthy moments we’ve all had on the dating scene.

“I think if anyone’s ever been single in their life, they’re going to be able to relate to this in some way,” McCallum said.

But the title works on many levels, Hamburg explained. Jezebel’s is a journey of self-discovery, not just a search for love.

“(The title) is more metaphorical than anything,” she said. “We all have a sense of emotional and social nudity when we’re feeling quite revealed or vulnerable.”

Most of all, though, this play is meant to be funny. Jezebel is no shrinking violet, and that sometimes gets her into trouble.

“She’s willing to try anything and go anywhere and do anything to find that special guy,” McCallum said. “Really. Anything.”

Neither McCallum nor Hamburg is new to this play. In fact, they met during the original production of the show in Australia in the late 1990s. Hamburg directed that production, and McCallum was the sound operator.

The show has evolved since then, to keep up with the times, and McCallum said she and Hamburg have wanted to work on it again together for the last several years.

When she founded Larrikin Entertainment, a new theatre company, last September, “it just all sort of fell into place.”

This is Hamburg’s second visit to Whitehorse as a director. The first was when she directed God of Carnage at the Guild Society in 2011, during McCallum’s stint as artistic director of the Guild.

The play will also feature Jeremiah Kitchen and Douglas Mayr. Kitchen was born and raised in Whitehorse, though he now works as an actor in Toronto.

He’ll be playing a number of characters in the production, including a couple of men Jezebel meets while speed dating. One of them, he says, is an “abysmal match” for her, though she tries him out anyway. Another is a charming man who says all the right things -“up until it’s time to commit.”

Kitchen has also composed most of the music for the show, and will be accompanying on keyboard through much of the production.

At some point, Hamburg said cryptically, he’ll also be playing a dog.

Kitchen is also helping McCallum build the new theatre that will host the show, at the old squash court below the Heart of Riverdale community centre.

McCallum said she decided to build a new theatre because there was no other downtown venue that could host a show for a four-week run. She said other venues were too expensive, or were already booked most nights.

“And I just thought there’s no point rehearsing something for four weeks and putting all this money and effort into it if you can’t actually sink your teeth into it for a decent length of time.”

Instead, she decided to build an entirely new space. The crew has built pews on one end of the old squash court, and plans to paint the room black. The room will remain a small theatre after this performance wraps up.

“It’s very intimate,” Kitchen said. “So when the audience is experiencing the play, it’s a much more emotional experience if you’re closer to the actors, able to read their facial expressions and really see them breathing.”

The show will run from Jan. 26 to Feb. 20, from Tuesday to Saturday, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies, at www.oftennaked.brownpapertickets.com or at the door.

The show will also be performed at the Odd Fellows Hall in Dawson City on Feb. 8, and may also travel to Watson Lake and Atlin.

Hamburg said the show is appropriate for anyone 18 or older, though she said 18-year-olds may be shocked by some of the content.

“Anyone over 25 would get it,” she said. “But 18-year-olds will learn something.”

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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