Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Disturbia

A new play at Theatre Centre, Concord Floral, explores life in the ’burbs

The cast of Concord Floral. Credit: Erin Brubacher

The next time you’re driving back into the city, take a second look at the discarded and disused spaces around its edges. Those empty buildings, fields and parking lots are more alive than you’d think. Not just a haven for skyrocketing weeds and ingenious raccoons, they serve as an escape for suburban teenagers.

“These places become sites for communion and coming of age,” writer Jordan Tannahill says. “The suburbs are specifically designed to counter subversion, so those who act subversively have to create their own spaces. Parents often see these environments as corrupting. But particularly for queer teens, they often become community meeting points and spaces of refuge.”

Concord Floral imagines the goings-on at one such space. Named for a Vaughan-region greenhouse that sat vacant for 15 years, the “Twin Peaks–style” tale follows a group of teens fleeing both societal conventions and a mysterious skin ailment that seems to be infecting them one by one. Believing it might be some kind of curse connected to the disappearance of a girl after a debaucherous field party, they flock to the ramshackle nursery hoping distance from society will keep them safe.

Though sexuality is foregrounded, in keeping with teenaged reality, much is left bubbling just below the surface. Relationships are ambiguous; touches are furtive. Sex is talked about more than it happens. Though not the defining element, Tannahill’s own experience growing up in an Ottawa suburb percolates throughout.

“I had dalliances, but I never actually dated anyone in high school or had an official relationship,” he says. “My sexual experiences were always furtive blowjobs in basements illuminated by the Lord of the Rings DVD menu. There was this sense of getting sex done quickly and quietly because the partner was always a straight-identified friend. I think that really informed my views on sexuality, and I had this idea that queer love was perpetually unrequited. It wasn’t until I got older I realized healthy, reciprocal relationships were possible.”