Hockey hijinks and manly men at heart of 25th Street play

Kody Farrow, Munish Sharma and Ian Harmon rehearse for 25th Street Theatre's production of 'Men Express Their Feelings,' running from March 9 to 20 at the Backstage Stage in Saskatoon and March 30 and 31 at The Artesian in Regina. (Supplied / Photo courtesy of 25th Street Theatre)

Hockey fans and theatre fans alike — get set for three periods of humour, heart and emotion in the upcoming 25th Street Theatre production.

Men Express Their Feelings, a play written by Sunny Drake, follows a pair of boys and their fathers who are ejected from the arena and sent to the dressing room after an incident out in the arena. The boys and the men reconcile with some of the powerful feelings that come with competitive sports, as well as topics of culture, sex and masculinity as they’re forced to talk rather than throw punches to settle their issues.

Joshua Beaudry, the show’s director, said he loves how the comedy and the drama intertwine in Drake’s script.

“This play isn’t just a straight-up comedy. It exposes a lot of issues that men deal with, and does it in a fairly honest way — but the humour is a way in for a lot of people,” he said.

The show promises to be full of intrigue for regular theatre-goers and hockey fans alike. Structured in a three-period style and featuring elements of play-by-play style comedy, the play draws on elements of real hockey games to create a framework for both the cast and the audience. There’s even raucous rock music and a mascot that comes out during “intermissions” to engage with the viewers.

“The show is written like a sporting event, so I wanted the experience the audiences has to be akin to going to a hockey game, like going to the (Saskatoon) Blades,” Beaudry said.

And the show isn’t only for male-identifying crowds, regardless of the title — Beaudry noted there’s plenty that viewers of any gender will be able to relate to as they watch the hockey culture and dynamic unravel onstage.

Beaudry said the show is really about “the burden that men carry” when it comes to cultural expectations of shouldering responsibility without the same societal freedom of sharing their emotions openly, as well as the differences in expectations from an older generation to the younger one.

“There’s some real moments of honesty and heartfelt incidents in the show, and those are the things that elevate this from a broad comedy to something much more personal,” he said. “That’s the thing that touches me the most. Being a father myself, there’s lots of things I can relate to.”

While the show tackles some big topics through the lens of one of the country’s most popular sports, Beaudry said the show is not trying to “teach a lesson.”

Instead, Beaudry said he hopes the show can help the audience to “redefine masculinity” in the 21st century amongst some raucous and relatable Canadian hockey humour.

“I hope the audience can walk away with a broader perspective of what it means to be a man,” he said. “It’s okay to express yourself — and that message is delivered with a heaping tablespoon of maple syrup.”

Men Express Their Feelings runs from March 7-20 at the Remai Arts Centre Backstage Stage and March 30 and 31 at The Artesian in Regina. Tickets can be purchased at 25thstreettheatre.org.

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