As in Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, two brothers struggle for power and ideals each believes are right. Set in the late nineteenth century in a coastal town in Norway, Enemy charts the journey of an idealistic and naive doctor who believes people will behave responsibly if given the facts, shown leadership, and pointed in the right direction. Instead, he discovers that, as individuals, we come with our own baggage, secrets, and self-interest that often defy and divert lofty goals. Ibsen explores the whole messy idea of democracy and how things change. Or don’t.
Messenger takes place in another country, Canada, and in another century but tackles similar themes. It is a memory play, set both in the present day and in 1990, when the Progressive Conservative government of the day, contrary to the public record, in fact set lofty goals of joining –
if not leading – the world in tackling climate change. The mechanism by which that goal was lost is played out primarily between two brothers. One brother, Peter, is the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, who wants to maintain political control and has many players and interests to juggle to keep his Prime Minister in office. The other brother, Thomas, is an idealist, a newly minted Cabinet minister who tries to show leadership and tell the truth about impending environmental crises and get the whole country on board with the rightness of his vision. The stakes are raised when strong family loyalties are tested by the crisis that ensues when Thomas refuses to back down from what he knows is right. A timely play in terms of environmental issues, full of lots of great political dirty tricks.
Cast of 3 men and 1 woman.