Jesus Freak at Pacific Theatre
What does it mean to belong? The tight-knit Campbell family prides themselves on their West Coast open-mindedness – from drug use to political resistance, nothing is off the table. But when their daughter Clara comes home from college and announces she’s become a Christian, their tolerance is put to the test. Pacific Theatre presents the world premiere of Jesus Freak, a flip-flopped exploration of family tribalism from BC playwright Peter Boychuk (Shelter From The Storm, Fritters in Kandahar).
Boychuk wrote the play specifically for Pacific Theatre, and artistic director Ron Reed portrays the Campbell patriarch, a goofy activist struggling with his daughter’s sudden shift in values. “I loved a couple of Peter’s earlier plays exploring parent-child dynamics,” said Reed. “Shelter From The Storm is about a sixties draft dodger and his surfer daughter living in Tofino: it premiered the year my own daughter moved to Tofino to surf. So when he invited me to read for the father of a daughter in Jesus Freak, and mentioned that he’d been writing it with Pacific in mind, it felt very right for our season.”
The show is the second in Pacific Theatre’s 2018-2019 slate focused on familial conflict, following the similarly charged-but-loving world of Kim’s Convenience.
Kaitlin Williams, who directed Kim’s, plays daughter Clara as she struggles to ‘come out’ to her family – particularly to her brother, who has already come out as gay. As the siblings attempt to negotiate the new normal, their personal relationship is caught in the looming shadow of larger political and ethical divides.
But ultimately, Williams says, reaching across the fault lines of family is universal work. “I love that Peter has captured on a micro, familial level what I feel we are struggling with on a macro, cultural scale,” she says. “What do we do with the people we disagree with? What about when “those people” happen to be people we love?”
Great questions for life – which make them great questions for the theatre.
Jesus Freak opens Friday, March 1 and runs until March 23 at Pacific Theatre, Vancouver..