Processed Theatre does Reefer Madness: The Musical at the Mainline Theatre
By Tobias Atkin
The lounge space in the Mainline Theatre is decorated with framed posters of former productions, many of which I regret having missed. Had I known about it, I would have struggled to convince the authorities at Selwyn House—my former all-boys high school—to organize an educational field-trip to see the play entitled Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, which ran until Feb. 2007.
When the new show at Mainline, Reefer Madness, first began, I was in the midst of imagining what atrocities the vampire lesbians might commit in their play. Nonetheless, the plot of Reefer Madness—with its murder, rape, and cannabis-induced-cannibalism—surpassed all of my most odious conjectures. Reefer Madness is not only bloody, it is smutty and campy, a cannabis-themed burlesque show. There are scenes when the actresses appear naked, but for cannabis leaves on their nipples and groin, and the boys frolic about the stage in near-translucent briefs. Even Jesus Christ has a cameo.
The play also has the benefit of an unconventional form of advance publicity, in the form of the 1938 exploitation film of the same name. The play is a musical satire of that film. In the first scene, the audience is addressed by the Lecturer, a stern middle-aged man who warns of the risks of a “leafy green assassin; assassin of youth.” The Lecturer is the narrator of the play. He introduces the audience to two wholesome teenagers: the handsome Jimmy Harper (Christopher Hayes) and his girlfriend Mary Lane (Emily Skahan), who fall victim to the “sweeping pestilence of marihuana.”
It is important to note that the cannabis portrayed in the play is not the same cannabis used during our day-to-day life as Dawsonites. This weed induces immediate psychosis and addiction, and it is consumed at the “Reefer Den,” a dirty parlour ruled by the despotic drug-pusher Jack Stone (George Bekiaris). When Ralph (Jade Hassouné), a muscular reefer-fiend who formerly attended university, begins an intense episode of his permanent, cannabis-induced psychosis, his munchies lead him to consume Sally (Helena-Marie Patte), another “reefer junkie,” who had sold her unnamed 11-month old baby for reefer money.
The play succeeds in its satirical effort, and I highly recommend it to any student who has consumed marijuana without undergoing psychosis. The commonality between the abbreviations for Reefer Madness and the Research Methods course is especially fitting, but somehow, I don’t think anyone would smoke before class if it meant that you might, inadvertently, eat the teacher.
Play runs September 7th to 25th
Mainline Theater, 3997 St. Laurent Blvd.
Getting there: Take the 55 Northbound from Saint Laurent metro, getting off at Duluth Ave.
Box office: 514-849-3378