From November 17-19, Theatre UNB staged Armstrong’s War at Memorial Hall. The play is set in a medical ward and focuses on the unlikely friendship between a veteran of Afghanistan and his assigned Pathfinder.
The text was written by UNB’s former Artist-in-Residence, Colleen Murphy, and was first staged in 2013, and explores the friendship of Michael and Halley as they are brought together by their shared surname, Armstrong. These encounters between Michael and Halley, though, go beyond their surname — they are more similar than different, despite all factors.
As a Theatre UNB production, the crew is composed exclusively of students. Per the program, the play was directed by Drama student Jordyn Atkinson. Atkinson is, reportedly, in her final year — and has been a prolific collaborator to Theatre UNB. She partook in Tomorrowlove (2021) and The Ends of the Earth (2022), also promoted by Theatre UNB. Her most recent role was in Bard in the Barracks’ Julius Caesar, staged this summer.
Kenzie Hinchey and Zerach Kerney complete the crew, respectively as Technical Director and Stage Manager. Hinchey is in her final year as a Drama and Psychology double major, and also minors in Media Arts and Culture. Kerney is a fifth-year Media Arts and Culture student who concentrates in Film Production and Drama — having extended experience in both short films and stage productions.
Armstrong’s War is a two-person show that deals with complex topics – the loss of loved ones, life as a person with a disability, and the trauma of war are the guiding lines of the plot. It stars Brenna Gauthier (Halley) and Dan Legare (Michael). Neither of the two are students, although Gaulthier participated in the Theatre UNB production of Tough!, as well as other plays in the New Brunswick scene.
Gaulthier is a great performer, channeling the energy of Halley’s 12-year-old self. Energetic, outspoken, and childish — these are traits that Gaulthier projects very well, contributing to the contrast between her character and Dan Legare’s Michael.
Legare’s portrayal of Michael Armstrong is his first role in a stage play, which makes his performance that much more impressive considering that is his debut on the stage. Legare captures the torment of Michael in a very touching way as he navigates anger and distress, ultimately finding solace in reading and creating. He recomposes himself through his friendship with Halley, and the bond that they formed.
Ultimately, Michael and Halley come together to heal themselves through creative exercise, finding friendship along the way.