Jacques Lalonde

Perhaps you’ve never experienced a stroke and have kinda wondered what it’s like and what you have to look forward to if you do. If so, you’ll want to make a point of following along with master storyteller Jacques Lalonde as the well-loved Vancouver actor recounts his journey from near basket case to almost full recovery in Stroke of Luck.

On July 1, 2013, Jacques suffered a stroke that paralyzed half his face and robbed him of the use of his right arm. Not a funny tale, however Jacques shares the incident with heart and humour comparable to the best episodes of 70’s TV’s MASH.

I especially enjoyed the sketch describing his time working at the now-defunct Gastown Storyeum. His use of well-selected anecdotes paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be part of a project that was ambitious to a fault but a source of continuing employment to a wide array of Vancouver’s artistic community. It was a very funny sketch and I laughed a lot.

So too was Jacques’ recounting of a previous medical emergency when he and his bike collided with a bus. Without giving too much away, I’m able to inform you that the bus-unlike Jacques-was not hospitalized. This retelling, while complete in itself, prepares us for the meat and potatoes of the evening.

Particularly enlightening was Jacques’ description of the BC medical system, beginning with his intake right through to his at-home therapy (and beyond). I was very pleased to learn that, for the most part, patients are cared for by competent and devoted practitioners and Jacques celebrates the individuals involved in his recovery.

Jacques Lalonde

That said, Jacques also alerts us to the fact that the system is not foolproof and makes a point to share that at least one of Major Frank Burns’ soulmates is collecting a paycheck from BC Coastal Health.

Much of the second half of the evening concerns the incremental victories achieved in regaining the use of his motor functions. A short, funny bit regarding speech therapy leads to a very clear and descriptive explanation of the exercises used to bring an arm back to near-full use. 

To say that Jacques has made the best of a very bad situation would be a huge understatement.

Stroke of Luck closes on both motivational and inspirational tones. While I hope to never experience Jacques’ moments of terror and frustration, I now know that I do have a one in six chance of doing so. The good news from that off-putting information is that I am now somewhat prepared for the journey should it occur.

Stroke of Luck played in a two-hour version to a full and appreciative house at the Orpheum Annex on August 20. Abridged one hour performances are scheduled at the Havana Theatre as part of the 30th Annual Vancouver Fringe Festival, on through September 4 to 14. Click here for Stroke of Luck performance times.

About Our Contributor Larry Ghini

Larry Ghini

Larry Ghini enjoys Vancouver's vibrant theatre scene and has taken in many productions over the years. He holds a BA in Sociology from Simon Fraser University. Larry is financially involved with the film Eadweard Muybridge, produced by Josh Epstein, directed by Kyle Rideout, and starring Michael Eklund.

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