To be sick is to be mentally or physically unwell. It can also be a feeling of nausea, or longing for someone or something. Alex MacDonald’s play Sicko covers all aspects of the definition of the word, in a less-than-conventional manner. While I very much expected a surrealist play that was light-hearted and comedic, I was not expecting it to also be laced with such sinister undertones.
The opening scene drags you right to the central theme of the play – the sickness and fear of the mundane – through bringing Francis’ (Zak Enayat) nightmare to life. The music and the lighting, combined with the use of physical theatre here creates something that is horror-esque, and leaves you with a feeling of uneasiness. From there on out, it only gets more foreboding and ominous. Usually, I’m not a fan of anything that even vaguely represents horror, but this I thoroughly enjoyed, simply because of how visually stimulating and captivating the scenes were.
The frequency of the dreams that Francis is having, along with being haunted by a man (Ben Van Lier), who appears to be a physical manifestation of the ‘sickness,’ both in real life and in his dreams, is an indication that he is growing older, and becoming a mindless office drone. His belief that his teeth are falling out is an indicator to his fear of growing up and being an adult, something that we can all relate to, or have probably related to in the past. The satirical take on a typical 9-5 office job, where everyone sits in containers for “eight hours a day, with a half hour lunch,” doing absolutely nothing, or repeating the same skull-numbing task, seems to have come straight out of Myth of Sisyphus. This absurdist portrayal left my friend who works in an office feeling rather attacked, and steered me well away from any potential skull-numbing office work.
In essence, MacDonald is trying to get us to hold on to our creativity and hobbies for as long as we can, because without them life gets a whole lot less exciting and meaningful. We’ll start getting weird nightmarish dreams, and our teeth will start falling out, just like Francis. This play is truly inspiring and turned out to be much more uplifting than I expected it to be from the opening. It definitely exceeded any expectations I had going in, I highly recommend it.