THE JUDGE’S DAUGHTER (Fringe review)

In The Judge’s Daughter, playwright Mairy Beam delivers an unapologetic message in favour of climate activism. Politically, I’m with her, as were most people in the audience at the performance I attended. There are great advantages to this brand of agitation and propaganda — and there’s a danger. In Beam’s script, Erin, who’s 30, is caught between her love for her mom, Kelly, who’s a conservative judge in BC’s Supreme Court, and her boyfriend, Amir, who supports climate activism. Kelly is one of the judges hearing Trans Mountain Pipeline cases, and their family gathering in Whistler hits a crisis when they hear that Janice Thompson, a frail Indigenous elder, whom Kelly sentenced to an unusually long stay in jail, has died while in custody. The danger I mentioned is stereotyping folks on the other side of the playwright’s argument — and Kelly is the obvious villain of this piece: she’s not just unsympathetic to political protest, she’s also a meddling mom. And the climax of the play is, frankly, a kind of kangaroo court, in which the audience is invited to judge Kelly for her actions. STILL, the play is smart enough to give Kelly some reasonable arguments, so there’s enough thematic tension to keep things interesting. And the characters’ relationships have sufficient nuance to keep that level bubbling. Overall, my response to this piece was invigoration. It’s great that The Judge’s Daughter is taking the climate emergency as seriously as it needs to be taken. It’s great that it champions climate action, including civil disobedience, as strongly as it does. And it’s great to experience all of the script’s energizing rage in an assembly of passionate, (mostly) frustrated people who recognize the mess we’re in and want to do something about it.

At the Revue Stage. Remaining performances on September 10 (:945 pm), 12 (6:45 pm), 14 (7:15 pm)*, 15 (8:30 pm), 16 (1:45 pm), and 17 (8:00 pm). Tickets

*Because an earlier performance was cancelled due to a cast member’s illness, this performance on Thursday, September 14 has been added. 

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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