Caiden Finlay as Boy in PreparedSometimes you’re lucky enough to catch a play that’s current and relevant. With Prepared, the new play from New York playwright Kari Bentley-Quinn that’s in its final weekend at Windsor’s Shadowbox Theatre, it’s so current and relevant that you’d almost think it was based on a true story being told by CNN.

In it’s world premiere by Post Productions and Waawiiyaatanong Feminist Theatre, the local theatre companies looked to actors outside of their core teams to tell this gut wrenching COVID-era story.

The award-winning play tells the story of a teenaged boy who lives emersed in a world of computer games, darkened windows, and a steady diet of homeschool lessons from Lydia, his survivalist mother. Lydia’s devotion to her son and uncompromising prepper ideology have estranged her from her eldest son, Trey, and ex-husband Marshall. For years she and the boy have been living a life of increasing isolation and decreasing social connection.

Relying heavily on survivalist essentials like guns, knives and food hording, the audience watches as Lydia, played by Niki Richardson, dives deep into a paranoid world of conspiracy theories, vaccination reluctancy and the imagined horrors of a pending apocalypse. It’s America at its most paranoid, and frankly, most dangerous – and the consequences to Lydia are huge.

Even though the play leans heavily on a strong disconnect from the mainstream world, the script takes a balanced approach and shows the uncompromised effects of Lydia’s paranoia on her family. Caiden Finlay plays the disturbed young teenager who seems to struggle with some sort of disorder, although it’s not made clear which disorders he faces. Alyx Magwood and Fred Kysko take on the roles of Trey and the estranged father respectively, and although frustrated with the life Lydia has chosen for herself and the boy, they continue to show unrelenting compassion and frustration for both of them throughout the show.

Ever since COVID hit North America, there’s been a deep disconnect and distrust that has divided citizens of both the US and Canada that we all hope can get resolved before it’s too late. Prepared shows a sample of what might happen should society leave the divisions and barriers in place. In a world where truth and facts are about as clear as mud, and questionable at best, we may actually hear of stories like Lydia’s on CNN as time goes on, if we don’t act now to change the widening separations that keep growing. Whether or not we agree with Lydia’s take on the world, it is a growing concern that the social disconnect and mistrust we see, not only in this play, but in the world, needs to be addressed.

Prepared has a wonderful script and a great set of actors to help tell the story and open the discussions about our fate as a compassionate and caring society. It might be the most essential play of the summer, if not the year.

Niki Richarson as Lydia in Prepared

Niki Richarson as Lydia in Prepared.

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