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PoMo writer's Patron Saint back at Revue Stage

We'd like to think that Christmas is a time of joy and family harmony, but let's be real - the holidays aren't always what they're cracked up to be.

We'd like to think that Christmas is a time of joy and family harmony, but let's be real - the holidays aren't always what they're cracked up to be.

Such was the inspiration for Port Moody resident Hiro Kanagawa's play, The Patron Saint of Stanley Park, playing for the second year at the Arts Club Theatre's Revue Stage Dec. 1 to 24.

"It's a family play for Christmastime, but it's not really a traditional play in that it has a bit more reality to it," he said. "It addresses the notion that Christmas isn't all roses for a lot of families."

The play is set during the Christmas of 2006 and tells the story of two kids whose father has died the year before.

They decide to go to Stanley Park to have a memorial for him, but they get caught in a ferocious storm. They are rescued by a mysterious vagabond who takes them to a magical world beneath Prospect Point, and the experience helps them understand the spirit of Christmas, and to come to terms with their grief.

"There were a lot of sniffles in the audience last year," Kanagawa acknowledged. "It's funny, it's sad, it's uplifting, parts of it might even be disturbing."

The story is a variation on the stories of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the protector of children now known as Santa Claus. It's also a personal story for Kanagawa, who started writing Patron Saint as a new father.

"I had a year-and-a-half-old son and a daughter on the way, and I started thinking about what would happen if I were to die. What would the children know of me?"

Kanagawa said he also felt strongly that as a city, Vancouver suffered from an identity crisis and a "lack of mythology."

"It's important for artists in this region to engage with the history and mythos of the city," he added, noting the play also references Canada Line construction on Cambie Street and other aspects of Vancouver's and Stanley Park's history.

He wrote the play with funding from the Arts Club's Silver Commissions Project, which provides resources to established Vancouver artists to create original works for the company; Patron Saint premiered last year to critical and popular acclaim.

Kanagawa has spent 20 years acting and writing for the stage and screen, with recent credits including The Secret Circle, Steven Seagal's True Justice, Blackstone and Tiger of Malaya.

"It's a pleasure for me to see Hiro's play return this season and reach even more families," said Rachel Ditor, Arts Club's literary manager.

The Patron Saint of Stanley Park also features another Tri-City resident.

Star Derek Metz is back for a second run in the play, having recently wrapped up his reprisal of his 2003 Jessie Award-winning turn as Denver in Rumble Productions' Snowman by Greg MacArthur.

The Patron Saint of Stanley Park runs Dec. 1 to 24 at the Revue Stage (1601 Johnston St., Granville Island). Tickets are $25/$35, available by calling 604-687-1644 or visiting www.artsclub.com.

spayne@tricitynews.com