True North | True North
Returning to her family home in the Nova Scotia countryside for her father’s funeral, Belle (Sofia Banzhaf, caustic and captivating) relapses into old dynamics with her mother Nancy (Shelley Thompson, skilfully investigating her character’s every complexity). Given that Nancy has seemingly only now accepted Belle’s coming out, revealed years earlier when Belle was a teen, Belle isn’t particularly eager to disclose that she’s now dating a man. That secret becomes considerably more difficult to conceal when her partner (Callum Dunphy) unexpectedly arrives on the unspeakably tense scene to offer moral support.
Having long ago established himself as a VIFF favourite with the likes of The Hanging Garden and Cloudburst, Thom Fitzgerald’s latest is another testament to his phenomenal gift for balancing the weightiest of subject matter—death, estrangement, sexual identity—with instances of natural comic levity (including two running jokes that grow funnier every time they arise). Adapted from Lee-Anne Poole’s stageplay, Fitzgerald’s tragicomedy explores the amorphous nature of grief through honest observations and hard-won catharsis. Ultimately, Splinters’ success hinges on "the subtleties of family conflicts and tensions, landing with a softness of touch and eye rather than forceful emotive manoeuvring."—Sarah-Tai Black, Globe & Mail