Faith, Hope and Tim Hortons Halo – Gallery 7
by Angelika Dawson
In a small town in Nova Scotia, euphoric chaos ensues when the face of Jesus appears on the wall of the local Tim Hortons. This is the premise of Josh Macdonald’s play Halo, which opens January 27 at Gallery 7 Theatre in Abbotsford.
One of the mandates of this community theatre company is to produce a Canadian play as often as possible and with Canada celebrating its 150th birthday this year, Executive Artistic Director Ken Hildebrandt wanted to ensure that there would be such a play in the season line up. “When I’m planning a season, I also want to make sure that we have at least one play each year that explores faith questions more directly,” he says. “Halo seemed to fit the bill on all fronts.”
The play explores themes of losing and finding, of genuine faith and the commercialization of faith. In the midst of the circus that erupts around the apparent image of Jesus is a tender story of a father wrestling with his faith in the face of tragedy.
John Dawson plays Donald, whose youngest daughter has been in a coma for two years. Dawson says Donald is a man of deep faith, who has already experienced great loss and wants desperately to believe that his daughter will live again. He wants to believe that God is able. “Donald is longing so deeply for a miracle. He doesn’t know what else to do but hope for one, doesn’t know what will happen if he lets go,” Dawson shares. “The interesting thing is that he’s got another daughter, living, who is right in front of him and he doesn’t see that he is at risk of losing her too.”
Dawson loves the contrast his character’s storyline makes to the chaos that ensues around the image of Jesus on the Tim Hortons building. It’s the calm versus the circus and yet both settings include people who are hoping against hope for a miracle. When asked if he believes in miracles, Dawson’s immediate answer is yes. “I believe in the God of miracles,” he says. “I’ve prayed for miracles myself at times. And sometimes I think we don’t see the everyday miracles all around us. In a sense, Halo deals with that too.”
Both Hildebrandt and Dawson comment on the excellent writing of the script and characters whose struggles are highly relatable. It’s the mix of comedy and tragedy in this show that makes it such a unique experience. “Josh MacDonald has written a wonderfully funny and deeply moving play,” Hildebrandt says. “It’s genius. I love it. I’m sure our audiences will too.”
Halo runs January 27 & 28 and February 1 – 4 at Gallery 7 Theatre in Abbotsford. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit gallery7theatre.com