Although the pandemic has shuttered our theaters, the work of theatre goes on. Thanks to Zoom, YouTube and other platforms, digital delivery of theatrical works has blossomed. The National Theatre in the UK has given us weekly streaming productions. Disney+ has brought us “Hamilton.” Less commercial theatre, however, appears to be the biggest winner because digital delivery spares shoe-string budgets numerous expenses.
Catalina Florina Florescu, the New Play Development Curator and Dramaturg at Jersey City Theater Center, has just started the streaming presentation of her work “Snowdrops and Chlorine.” It is the second part of the “Staging Breast Cancer” trilogy and is a hybrid production featuring directed by Reg Flowers.
Through a series of different scenes and vignettes, Dr. Florescu walks us through the various issues involved with breast cancer – theatre as a mode of education. There is a class in a school where the female body is not discussed owing to the general awkwardness people have about discussing the human body as a biological entity. A young man named Teddy (played by Khalid Rivera) faces the stigma of “catching a girls’ disease” and his father’s inability to accept that situation. Christopher Bailey plays numerous parts, but the most touching is of a widower recollecting his wife’s struggle and the pain of omitted options for treatment. Caroline Clay, also wearing a few hats, plays Terry’s friend and a lawyer who tries to win damages that can never compensate for the loss of a loved one. Each of this smaller pieces is accented by animation that suits each from Dan Basu.
This sort of theatre runs the risk of becoming preachy, but at no point does “Snowdrops and Chlorine” do that. There are facts and statistics embedded in the story, most delivered in a way that enhances rather than distracts from the story being told.
At the end, we meet Michael Singer, a male survivor of breast cancer. He speaks from his own experience, and his brief address drives home the reality of male breast cancer without belittling or detracting from the difficulties of female breaast cancer patients.
Above all at 49-minutes, the production gets to the point, delivers its message and avoids beating the audience over the head with its objective. Truthfully, an hour-and-a-half of this would be much less effective.
Dr. Florescu has recorded a video that provides context and her point of view for this work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52tdBXTjD5U&feature=youtu.be
Snowdrops and Chlorine itself is available on-line beginning August 5th at 7pm Eastern Daylight time at https://youtu.be/1vPh1zcGyW8