Jokes provide a true insight to the soul.
In a scene near the end of If We Are Women, Polly Cohen (Erin Mathews) returns from being out all night. As she approaches her house, she thinks about the other three women waiting for her and in terms of the jokes they tell.
As she thinks of them, each tells her joke.
Her mother, Jessica MacMillan Cohen (Sharon Heath), tells a literary anecdote about James Joyce.
Her paternal grandmother, Rachel Cohen (Janet Michael), tells a typically Jewish joke, complete with doting mother and Yiddish accent.
Her maternal grandmother, Ruth MacMillan (Lanni McInnes), relates about a bear going into a bar full of lumberjacks.
We have already met the three older women and have seen some of their character. The jokes, however, serve to cement their outward personalities indelibly in our minds.
The latest production of Western Canada Theatre, If We Are Women opened Thursday evening at Sagebrush Theatre. The four characters already introduced are the entire cast and each fills her role perfectly.
As the rough-hewn Canadian prairie survivor, Ruth comes across as someone with a great zest for life, little book-learning but a lot of street smarts. Her opposite number, Rachel, is the Jewish son become Jewish mother - well-read, neurotic, driven to succeed.
Jessica is the middle-aged product of a staunch Canadian upbringing combined with marrying into an American Jewish family. Her language, both vocal and thought, is flowery and very literary.
Polly is 18 and in her barnyard years, according to Ruth. She has just fallen totally and completely in love, but not with the boy everyone thought she would.
Playwright Joanna McClelland Glass plays with the language beautifully. There is little action, with most of the scenes being set-pieces.
In a setting like this, words become the windows into the soul. On opening night, there were a few minor stumbles in some very long speeches, but recoveries were quick.
If We Are Women is a play which is a delight to listen to, I must confess I spent some moments with my eyes closed simply listening to the conversations on the stage. I could tell as easily by the way a character spoke as by the sound of the voice who was speaking.
The four women are obviously comfortable with each other, able to speak about things most people would consider totally private. They are comfortable with each other, but they don't know each other. As the play moves on, we and they start to know each other better.
If We Are Women is on until Feb. 3. Tickets can be purchased at Kamloops Live! Box Office.