by Jessy Ardern
Impossible Mongoose - Edmonton, AB
V.29 - One88 
From half of the writing team behind the Struts and Frets Players:
She has been blessed with the ability to see the future. Her curse is that no one will ever believe her. In a story that slides between the mythic past and the looming future, Cassandra foretells the events of a war that will overcome her homeland and destroy her family. Channelling the spectral voices of the Trojan women, Cassandra takes us from the past and into the present as old ideas of love, rage and revenge collide with new images of war, safety and righteousness.

Carmen Nieuwenhuis

Show Info:
60 Mins
Tickets: $12

Parental Guidance
Warnings:Mild language, violent content, sexual content
Wed July 19 7:00 PM
Thu July 20 9:30 PM
Sat July 22 7:45 PM
Sun July 23 7:45 PM
Mon July 24 6:00 PM
Wed July 26 9:30 PM
Thu July 27 6:00 PM
Fri July 28 7:45 PM
Sat July 29 9:30 PM


Impossible Mongoose—One88

This is a familiar tale told through a (somewhat) modernised lens, but just because the props aren’t Spartan, it doesn’t mean they’re not effective. If not for the horror of the story, the props can be comical, but the way it’s presented, you completely forget the absurdity of what they are.

Star and solo performer Nieuwenhuis expertly wields her voice and her presence into powerful and convincing characters. The gripping performance holds you to the very end, slapping the character’s hopelessness right into your face.

The conclusion literally leaves the audience stunned and silenced. Then as you leave, don’t miss the cookies on the way out—they’re delicious and it’s a nice way to decompress as you return to the real world.

Ray Yuen


Impossible Mongoose—One88

This play is so remarkable one hardly knows where to start. To touch on all the splendid features of it would require a long review. So for the moment here are some almost-random comments:

In awarding it 5 stars CBC was under-rating it.

Several hours later it still feels as if one’s entrails are littering the floor at Venue 29.

A terrifyingly powerful play, performed by Carmen Neuwenhuis and directed by Corben Kushneryk. It focuses on four women of Troy during the Trojan War—Cassandra, the dead-on accurate prophet whom no one believed, her mother Hecuba, queen of Troy, her sister-in-law Andromache, and half-sister Briseis (with a few glimpses of Helen of Troy). We look at these events from a women’s perspective. Not a pretty picture—and as Ardern herself has remarked, there’s no catharsis in it. It’s vivid, savage realism. One long shriek of pain and rage. But, being realism, it weaves in gentleness, warmth, and comedy as well. The writing and acting of Briseis’s introduction to the not-unkind warrior Patroklos is simply charming.

Some of the best of the best parts are when one character comments on other people—illuminating them with sharp clarity. Hecuba’s remarks comparing her foppish son Paris (principal provoker of the war that brought catastrophe to Troy), comparing him unfavourably with a hat, are hilarious.

Performer Carmen Neuwenhuis and director Corben Kushneryk are remarkable. Neuwenhuis’s shifts of persona from Cassandra to iron-hard Hecuba to the crushed and terrified Briseis to pious and repressed Andromache, and to the mincing Helen, are marvellous. The shifts are helped by slight costume, cosmetic, and location changes (and the set-pieces are all ordinary everyday objects), but this actor has a great ability to change her presence. And as for her projection and power—well, I won’t tell you to get ready to duck, since you’ll find yourself doing that by reflex.

I did think the play could be improved if there was a more obvious indication the actor has shifted roles when she makes the first switches to her several characters. For instance, for a few moments you think Cassandra’s talking about her son when the actor’s actually shifted to Queen Hecuba who is telling us about HER son. It’s confusing if one knows who these characters in Greek myth are—if you don’t, it must be disorienting. 

The audience seemed very attentive through the whole hour.

Somehow Ardern’s got her imagination so inside Greek tragedy that she’s actually written one.  

One doesn’t say such things. But it does need to be said. Ardern’s passage on the fate of Andromache’s and Hector’s son Astyanax actually improves on Euripides.

With this play, this author takes another step toward the Governor-General’s Award league—if it doesn’t bring her there already.

The play brings things home to us. I won’t tell you how it ends, but I’ll just say—we, the audience, sat there stunned.

To borrow a phrase, Prophecy is coming FOR Edmonton next month.

Kevan Bowkett