George Brown play stars Jillian Hanson and Brandon Nicoletti in lead roles
George Brown theatre students graduated by throwing a bright, metaphorical and feminist fairytale, The Enchanted.
“What stood out to me was the idea of people who are afraid to live because they are afraid to die,” said Jillian Hanson, who played the lead role of Isabel. “They prefer staying put to going out, trying and not being afraid to fail,” she continued. “I would not be where I am now if I was afraid to fail.”
Her character, too, is not afraid. A substitute teacher living in a town enchanted by a ghost, played by Brandon Nicoletti, Isabel is the only one who isn’t afraid to meet him. Isabel only teaches what she believes in, and feels like she has to do something wonderful for humanity before she dies. She thinks death is nothing but a state of mind, and meeting a ghost is an incredible life experience and a way to live a different life; a life where you don’t know where you’re going.
But Isabel is one of a kind. Everyone else is hunting for the ghost. The most eager ghost-buster is a police inspector, brilliantly played by Sean Jacklin. To him, a narrow-minded misogynist, too much happiness in the district is a serious abnormality. Yes, after the ghost appeared, everything in the village began to improve, people’s dreams started to come true. This is when you realize the ghost is a metaphor for the spirit of freedom.
Heatedly, the inspector begins the operation, threatening to call the army if necessary. “What if the next prime minister is a ghost?” he asked the mayor, played by Zara Jestadt, who doesn’t see any harm in Isabel keeping her illusions. This argument between the mayor and inspector, supposedly between the real world and fantasies, doesn’t look that fantastic anymore.
Following her dream for a better future, Isabel sets herself apart from the rest of the town. They try to kill the ghost, he suggests leaving, “but I caught you in my trap”, said Isabel, as she pointed to the phenomena of an idea once caught that could not go away anymore.
Unfortunately, the town turns out to be stronger. “We have to make life more real for her than death!” shouts one of the school girls. And apparently gossip, complaints, gambling, politics and an intrusive “I love you” by a tiresome supervisor, played by Jack Rennie, is what brings Isabel to life.
“If that’s what life is, save me from it,” Isabel said to the supervisor in the beginning, petrified by a boring life he proposed. “I love you,” she surrendered in the end.
The overall atmosphere of the play was enchanting itself. “There is great energy on stage when you have 14 people behind you,” said Hanson about her classmates with whom she worked for three years. “It is a really good environment, there is a lot of love and support.”
Hanson, who really connected with the character, agrees it is hardly a happy ending. “It seemed to me that she forgot what she was about, forgot all her ideas – I find it disheartening.”
“Now when we are graduating that would be something I will have to remind myself: go out and try my hardest,” she summarized.