The Vic wrestles with trauma

All-women cast explores the effects of violence in Toronto


Currently, a student-run theatre company at Queen’s University is presenting an emotional and thought-provoking production of The Vic, a play written by Leanna Brodie and directed by Amanda Lin.

Presented by 5th Company Lane and held in the Rotunda Theatre in Theological Hall until Nov. 26, audience members are confronted with a minimalist set designed by Blair MacMillan, presenting a swing set hanging from a tree that stands in the corner of a park complete with benches and beds of grass. 

Overlooking the simple display, a simple pair of red Converse shoes hang from a black wire, capturing the attention of the audience as it seems out of place yet fitting.

This all-female cast production challenges the audience to consider the power of the word “victim” as it tells the story of four women racing against the clock as they search for a missing girl. The tension builds as the characters search through the outskirts of Toronto and the audience begins to have an inside look into the characters’ lives. 

The audience gets a look at the lives of women who are just as lost in Toronto as the missing girl, victimized by their own gendered experiences. The relationships of the play show the complicated nature of a film mentor versus her protégée as well as lovers and sisters who try to answer the question of who has power and what they’re supposed to do with it. 

“I want people to see this production because we don’t see fully fleshed-out complicated female characters in the media. 

The Drama department is 75 per cent female but there are so many well-known male playwrights,” Director Amanda Lin said.

(Photo by Nicole Langfield)

The show’s inclusion of physical violence, especially in the context of relationships, may not be suitable for all audience members. It’s jarring and difficult to watch, forcing viewers to come to grips with the trauma the characters face. As dark as their stories may be, The Vic has the potential to hit home for some, as Toronto is home for many Queen’s students. 

Although complicated, these characters also become relatable as they struggle with personal success, whether it’s meeting deadlines or trying to get ahead in a career field.

Lin explained much of the play aims to deconstruct commonly held conventions about people living with trauma, instead offering the audience a deeper, more complex account of the show’s female characters.

“We have to resist the urge to simplify people down into our idea of what a victim should be,” Lin said. 

The Vic presents a story full of twists and turns that will leave the audience with an understanding of the negative effects of the word ‘victim’ and how it has the power to cut away someone’s humanity. They may feel angry, sad and empathetic towards the characters and their own friends as they’re brought on a journey of love, friendship, struggle and family. 

Lin elaborated that while the story can be harrowing, there’s hope to be found in sharing our stories.

“The word ‘victim’ labels people as weak, innocent and without agency. Life is complicated. That can be frustrating, but it is also quite beautiful,” Lin said.


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