Storefront Fringe – The Pigeon

There’s something so cathartic about watching a play about revenge—maybe it’s something to do with how we want to believe the world is just, and that evil actions have consequences. What goes around comes around. However, although Chloë Whitehorn’s play The Pigeon is all about revenge, its message is less heartening to audiences, demonstrating that exacting revenge is never as cut and dry as one may think.

Whitehorn, a graduate of Queen’s University, is excited to be returning to Kingston for the premiere of The Pigeon (it had a staged reading in 2014, but this is the first time it’s getting a full production). The three-person cast is made up of local Kingston artists Graham Banville, John A. Geddes, and Ciara Roberts. The play opens with Malone (Geddes) and Jegger (Banville) meeting on a park bench. At this point, we don’t know why they’re there or how they know each other. It is slowly revealed that they have met to plan revenge on Jegger’s father, who they both despise. The story unfolds in a non-linear fashion, flipping back and forth from scenes between Malone and Jegger and Jegger and Amy (Ciara), who is Jegger’s pregnant fiancé. The transitions between scenes are smooth, with Jegger walking back and forth between the two sides of the stage, often with a word or idea tying the two scenes together.

The Pigeon will be getting another production in November in Toronto, this time, with a slightly different version of the script where Malone is played by a woman. Whitehorn says this was a conscious choice: “I realized a little while ago, ‘why am I writing all these great roles for men? I should be writing them for women, and older women.’” In the current Fringe version where Malone is played by a man, his conversations with Jegger do come off as disdainful towards women—the phrase “women stuff” is repeated multiple times throughout the scene. Although it is established early on in the piece that Malone has old-fashioned ideas, for which Jegger scolds him, I felt uncomfortable with how many audience members were laughing at his offensive comments and jokes.

Whitehorn also mentions that a female Malone would be interesting because “it’s usually men doing the revenging” in stories about revenge. Currently, the only female character (Amy) is mostly around to move forward the plot between Jegger and Malone, and she says herself that she would be lost without Jegger—she’s even unable to open pickle jars on her own. I’m excited to see that playwrights, including Whitehorn, are slowly making moves towards creating stronger female characters. This is important, especially since the stories that we consume from art and media can have a profound effect on our self-efficacy and what we think we’re capable of.

The Pigeon is playing in Venue 1 (314 Bagot Street) as a part of the Storefront Fringe festival from now until July 28.