Picture this: a young middle-class couple eagerly awaits the arrival of their second-born son. Things seem to be going well with their first son, who’s rowdy, as many young children are, but normal and happy. Are they prepared to raise another? Will he be just as easy to raise? Will his peculiarities and individuality present challenges they couldn’t anticipate? They don’t know. No parent ever knows.
Picture this couple seventeen years later. The parents are now separated, in fact the relationship between them is now so strained that they barely speak to each other. Their eldest son, Trey (played by Alyx Magwood), lives on his own and works with his father, Marshall (played by Fred Krysko). He sees his mother briefly every Wednesday when he and his father come to pick up the Boy (played by Caiden Finlay) for a weekly dinner outing. But he and his mother don’t really have a relationship anymore, nor does he have a relationship with his brother. In fact, the Boy hates these outings and resents both his father and brother.
Yet the Boy does have a relationship – albeit a troubled one – with his mother, Lydia (played by Niki Richardson). Lydia has been homeschooling him and protecting him for years. She is in many ways the only person in the world that the Boy has any sort of face-to-face relationship with. The Boy resents his mother too, but he’s dependent on her and this eats away at him. The happiest moments in his life may be when he’s online playing games with people he’s never met from other parts of the country.
As difficult as Lydia and the Boy’s relationship is, they do share a bond. Lydia is a survivalist, or prepper, who has devoted her life to ensuring that she and the Boy are safe and prepared for an imminent apocalypse. She has taught him how to shoot. She has taught him about chemical warfare, foraging for food, resisting indoctrination, and other necessities of living a life restricted by the conspiracies she fears.
A few decades ago people like Lydia and her son might have seemed so crazy they had to be invented. But recent years have seen a rise in various ideologies and conspiracy theories that share at their core the fear of oppression, manipulation, marginalization, and eradication. Survivalists, incels, white supremacists, and other people in the nebulous overlapping world of what we now call the “alt-Right” are present to us in a way they have never been before. If they aren’t quite mainstream yet, they’re certainly on their way to becoming mainstream.
This is the story of Prepared by Kari Bentley-Quinn – a play that will premiere at The Shadowbox Theatre on 17 June 2022. The play helps us understand the motivations of people like Lydia. And through Lydia we can understand others who share her beliefs – and especially those who share her fears. It’s tempting to dismiss someone like her as crazy. Maybe her beliefs are crazy, though she isn’t. In some respects she understands the world too well. She knows people will bully and mistreat her son because he’s different. She knows he won’t be accepted. So she withdraws him and herself from the world as a means of defence.
Lydia is also motivated by a struggle to understand why her son is different. He is. Maybe his difference has a label, maybe it doesn’t. He certainly is different from his older brother who is assimilating well into a society that Lydia distrusts. She can’t accept that maybe this is just who the Boy is, so she searches for people and forces and conspiracies to blame. From there it’s a slippery slope to seeing conspiracies all around her. And the more she becomes estranged from society and the rest of her family, the harder it is for her to receive better and more accurate information.
Prepared is a personal and intimate story about a mother who loves her son no matter how difficult he makes that, who has gone and will go to any length to protect and prepare him, who faces consequences of her devotion in a way she was never quite prepared to bear. It’s also a larger story about people who are disconnected from society and lured into dangerous traps by the seductive yet false information that is ubiquitous on the internet in our present age.
Post Productions presents Prepared at The Shadowbox Theatre (103B -1501 Howard Ave. – corner of Howard and Shepherd) June 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30; July 1 & 2, 2022. Showtime 8:00 PM (doors open 7:30). Tickets are $25 at postproductionswindsor.ca – or cash at the door when available. Written by Kari Bentley-Quinn. Starring Niki Richardson, Caiden Finlay, Fred Krysko, and Alyx Magwood. Directed by Fay Lynn. Produced by Michael K. Potter and Fay Lynn.
You can learn more about Prepared by reading Post Productions’ exclusive interview with playwright Kari Bentley-Quinn at: http://www.postproductionswindsor.ca/blog/a-conversation-with-playwright-kari-bentley-quinn