When Star Wars exploded onto the silver screen in 1977, it became not only part of many a young boy’s collective consciousness, but it became a part of pop culture at large and continues to this day.
The University of Lethbridge’s Feb. 14-18 production of Stephen Massicotte’s 1997 play “ The Boy’s own Jedi Handbook,” explores the effect Star Wars had on two boys’ imaginations and their futures.
“ Essentially it follows the life of a character called the Kid and looks at how his childhood was affected by the first two Star Wars movies. So he recreates parts of the Star Wars films and how they relate to his life as a grown up,” said director Jeremy Mason, adding the two boys, played by Colin Bluekens as the Kid and Daniel Perryman as James, try to become Jedi Knights.
“ It’s a feel good, coming of age play that people who grew up in the late ’70s and ’80s will come away feeling very good about,” Mason continued.
They play opened Feb. 14 for close to a sold out audience.
In addition to an impressive performances from “The Kid” Colin Bluekens, who is on stage the entire show and impressively delivers 120 minutes of text and his best friend “James,” Daniel J Perryman, who ably shows the duo’s growing bond over Star Wars, numerous other supplementary characters are played by the always impressive Shelby Wilson and Kathryn Bullock. Much of the play shows how The Kid and James bond by reenacting various scenes from the first two Star Wars movies , bounding all over the stage with childlike enthusiasm.
The ladies play a variety of classmates, siblings, mothers and teachers in the first part, but come into their own as the would be girlfriends of the oblivious and proud young dorks in the second act, in which the Kid and James have grown into young teenagers, excited about the release of the Empire Strikes Back.
Wilson is especially as enjoyable as The Kid’s teacher and director of the Kid’s first play, “ A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Her facial expressions hilarious as usual, even playing as simple a character as the exasperated mother, tolerating her children’s exuberant and endless raving about the first Star Wars movie, without muttering more than three words. She does a great turn as Darth Vader as seen through the Kid’s eyes, confiscating notes passed in class.
Bullock is simply adorable as the determined first girlfriend of the Kid.
“There is a lots of energy and lots of fun. It’s a feel good show,” Mason said, adding you don’t have to have grown up in that era or even be a Star Wars expert in order to enjoy this show.
There are plenty of Star Wars scenes and in jokes like “In the version we play, Hans shot first,” as well as a few nods to the future like who will Leia fall in love with— Han or Luke? Choosing the David Spinks Theatre is an excellent choice as it provides a more intimate experience, as if you are just hanging out with the Kid and James in their back yard, camping out with them being kids together and reliving Star Wars scene by scene. The set features numerous movable pieces, switched around by the cast to reflect different settings like home, the schoolyard ,classrooms, recess, a roller disco rink and their back yards. The stage is set in the second act to look eerily like the Millennium Falcon.
“It’s a main stage play and we were offered the University Theatre. But It was first developed as a play for Fringe Festivals so we thought it would be better for the audience if it were in the David Spinks Theatre,” observed Mason, who played the role of “The Kid” in a production of the play nine years ago. He is excited to return to Lethbridge to direct “A Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook,” in between splitting time between projects in Calgary and Edmonton.