Lowest Common Denominator is more than its potential controversial subject

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Shawn Macdonald, Deborah Williams and Dallas Sauer in Dave Deveau's Lowest Common Denominator.

It isn’t often a playwright will write with a specific actor in mind, but with Dave Deveau’s latest play Lowest Common Denominator it all started with a conversation at last year’s Jessie Awards.

“Deb [Williams] was sitting beside me when I won my award for My Funny Valentine last year and leaned across and whispered that she really wanted to work with me on a project,” says Deveau on a break from rehearsals.

Knowing Williams’ work, Deveau started to write, but it was well into the process before the award-winning playwright landed on the potentially controversial subject matter.

“I started thinking about what would happen if this middle-aged divorcee walked into a room and interrupted something,” says Deveau.

That “something” turned out to be Williams’ character Harmony, a middle-age divorcee, walking in on her seventeen year-old son Trevor, played by up-and-comer Dallas Sauer, kissing the man she had just been on a date with, played by veteran actor Shawn Macdonald.

Shawn Macdonald, Deborah Williams and Dallas Sauer in Dave Deveau's Lowest Common Denominator.

Shawn Macdonald, Deborah Williams and Dallas Sauer in Dave Deveau’s Lowest Common Denominator. Photo by Tina Kulic.

For both Deveau and Williams though, the potentially controversial exploration of intergenerational relationships is tempered with a play that at its heart is about the unconditional love of a mother for her son, something Williams can relate.

“I’ve never been divorced,” laughs Williams of the parallels between her own life and that of the character she plays.  “But I have two children who are a little older than Trevor and I can certainly relate to Harmony’s desire to protect her son.”

But while she might not understand what it is like to start a new life post-divorce, Williams has experienced in her own life what it is like to have a child who has fallen for someone older.

“It wasn’t as big a difference as that between Trevor and Peter in the play,” reveals Williams who goes on to say that there is a fine line between being supportive and hoping that the relationship will not last.

“It’s hard to be caught in the middle.  On the one hand you don’t want to push them into the arms of the older person by not being supportive, but on the other you simply want them to be able to experience more of life from the perspective of their own age,” she continues.

For Deveau it is a slightly different dichotomy that he had in mind when writing, although he confesses it was from research and not personal experience that helped as he developed the play.

“Some younger adults, especially in gay relationships, are looking for that older person to provide them with experiences in the gay community that they sometimes find tough themselves,” explains Deveau who emphasizes that he is talking about relationships between consenting adults.

Consciously refusing to take sides, Deveau says it is important for him, as with all of his writing, to explore the ideas of intergenerational relationships without judgement.

“I try not to bring my own biases to any play that I write,” says Deveau.  “It is important that I allow the audience an opportunity to come to their own conclusions.”

Lowest Common Denominator plays the PAL Studio Theatre from March 14-30, 2014.  Tickets are available online from Tickets Tonight or by calling 604-684-2787.  Visit http://www.zeezeetheatre.ca for more information.

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