Sometimes you have anger you don’t know what to do with. You try and fight it or run away from it. But you’re certainly not going through it. The acute stress response. This idea is depicted in Verb Theatre’s The Flight or Fight Response, by Col Cseke.
The play tells of two fighters, Kevin (Justin Michael Carriere) and Doug (Nathan Pronyshyn) who are training at the mixed martial arts gym because Kevin has a professional fight the next day and Doug is trying to get him ready for it. But as we go along, the men talk more. It is revealed that Doug pulled out of the fight because his Grandfather is sick and he didn’t want to miss the funeral because of a fight. But as they train and grapple, things go deeper between the pair. Doug starts talking about how he wants to quit fighting and teaching because he doesn’t think he’s making a difference, how he turned 30 and he’s not good at anything. They talk about passion. Then Doug is quite vulnerable about something he went through and he is faced with the decision to fight or give up.
The Fight or Flight Response is an engaging look at fighting and how emotions can be expressed as aggression and anger. It also is a deep look into depression and how it can be expressed in different ways. Doug has a lot of anger and he doesn’t know what to do with it. Kevin tried to listen to him and presents him with two options: He can fight through it, or he can run from it.
Victoria Krawchuk’s set design has the small space of the Joyce Doolittle look like a mixed martial arts gym and the fight choreography was created by fight director Karl Sine with Pronyshyn and Carriere.
Kelly Reay’s direction has the play feels so authentic and both Carriere and Pronyshyn carry their characters and their moves with grace. The Fight or Flight Response is a compelling story of two guys who fight, both on and off the mat.
Verb Theatre’s The Fight or Flight Response runs until March 19th. More information is available online.