Satellites explores housing and community in our city

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Satellites | Solo Collective Theatre | Performance Works | November 16 – 26, 2017

“Satellite kids” are lonely teenagers left by themselves in large houses as their parents go back and forth to another country. Li (Mason Temple) is one of these kids living in a large house in Vancouver. His neighbour, Jan (Jillian Fargey) is lonely herself. Her marriage is strained and she spends her days complaining about the way her neighbourhood is changing and fears that Li’s mother might tear down the heritage home she bought for her son to live in. One of her hobbies is breaking into empty houses to take photos in case one day they are no longer standing.

Jan’s husband, Andy (Alex Zahara), is having an affair with Sandy (Meaghan Chenosky), a real estate agent who sold Li’s house to his mother, Cherry (Sharon Crandall), who is also a real estate agent. Sandy is also married herself to Omar (Anousha Alamian) who ends up having an affair with Cherry. Things are sufficiently messy as these characters try to navigate their way through Vancouver real estate, loneliness, and the realization that their relationships are breaking down.

Cherry tries to be a parent over the phone, suggesting that Li should “relax with more intensity” when he complains that he is struggling. Omar, a city hall staff member, explains to Cherry that there must be an adult living at her residence full-time. During their conversation, it’s clear that Omar is walking the fine line between task master and welcoming official. When Jan meets with him to voice her complaints about her neighbourhood, she complains of offshore money buying up all the homes.

The themes explored in this tightly written drama are extremely relevant as Vancouver goes through an affordability crisis and we search for scapegoats. When Jan goes to China to visit Cherry, they find some common ground as mothers but struggle to understand each other’s circumstances. Cherry simply wants to give her son a better life in a country that isn’t polluted, and as a Chinese real estate agent she wants to help others do the same. Jan resents her for buying real estate in her city but not living there.  

Temple’s performance as Li was spot on as he slowly becomes a gothic pot smoker in the absence of his mother. He crashes his new Jeep, spends his days alone in an empty house eating take out, and doesn’t know what to do with himself. He finds a companion in Jan who is equally lost and decides to take Li under her wing. While Jan resents Cherry for buying a house and leaving her teenage son alone, she decides that she must help him as he’s now part of her community.

There are no easy answers to the issues presented in Aaron Bushkowsky's Satellites, but one thing it reminds us of is the power of community and the universal need for human connection.

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