Soldier encounters boy

A Line in the Sand opens with strong performances

by Brian Lapuz

A Line in the Sand, a play written by Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef, tells the story of a 20-year-old Canadian soldier, stationed in Kuwait during the Gulf War, and the relation he develops with a 16-year-old Palestinian boy.

Premiering for the first time in Montreal at the Segal Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday, the show is running until March 21. It’s produced by Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, an independent theatre company that works solely with Canadian content.

The play tells the story of Mercer (Mike Hughes), a Vancouver born soldier who has obvious emotional problems, explored during his interrogation with the Colonel (Chip Chuipka). Frustrated by the lack of attention given to him by his parent during his childhood, he sought refuge in the military. While on duty in Kuwait, he met Sadiq (Glenda Braganza), a young boy who dreams of going to Kansas.

Initially, Mercer treats Sadiq as a hostile. But seeing that Sadiq wanted to make money for his ‘American Dream,’ he sold black-market goods, which included pornographic photographs. This interested Mercer because of his lack of sexual interaction with his girlfriend who was on the other side of the world.

The actor’s performances were solid. Braganza truly captured Saqid’s teenage boy mannerisms and his Palestinian-English accent. Chuipka convincingly played the Vietnam veteran and Colonel, who had a cynical view on the way the Canadian government treated it’s military. Finally, Hughes enthralled the audience with his performance of the young and confronted Canadian soldier.

The drama was performed on a black box stage, fixed between the audience. The set up featured a drape, made of stitched clothing, which covered the floor and makeshift hills in desert camo colours.

The ambiance also resembled that of The Hurt Locker (2008), a movie about American soldiers during the Iraq War. Aside from being a pleasant show, the story had a plentiful amount of political content. Clearly criticizing Canada’s involvement in the Gulf War, one would have thought that the Canadian Forces would have screened this play before sending in their future officers from the Military College of St-Jean.

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