The Playhouse and The Belfry Theatre
By Stephen Massicotte
Director: Roy Surette Lighting: Alan Brodie Technical Direction: Darren W. Hales Set and Costumes: Brian Perchaluk Composer/Sound Design: Tobin Stokes Stage Manager: Jennifer Swan
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Stephen Massicotte's play is an imaginative and sensitive presentation of a young man and woman falling in love and being torn apart by the exigencies of the time in which they live.On the evening before her wedding day, Mary dreams of her lost love. Scenes of remembered storms and rides across the prairie are intermingled with the battles of the First World War, described to her in the letters of Charlie, her first boyfriend.
Set off centre stage is a spare scaffolding above a small raised platform and stage left of this, a rising plank pathway. By the clever use of lighting, these become many different places, though under the central crosspiece is almost always a place of safety. The backdrop changes from the sunlit open sky of the prairie to the dark, shot riven blackness of the battlefield as the script demands.
As Mary, Nicole Leroux is innocent and charming She has a happy spirit with the eternal optimism of youth. When Charlie ( Bob Frazer) encourages her to overcome her fear of horses and takes her for a ride, she is delighted with the experience, and she in turn, helps Charlie overcome his fear of thunderstorms. But the lightning flashes and roll of thunder later become the terrifying rumble of enemy guns and bursting shells of the battles in war torn, distant France, where Charles is in the cavalry of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Charlie is the ingenuous boy on the next farm who joins up because he thinks war will be a great adventure and perhaps Mary's mother will think better of him when he returns home. But like many young men, Charlie never returns except to appear to Mary in her dream before her wedding day.
As the two young lovers who evolve into adults against the miseries of war, both Nicole Leroux and Bob Frazer are convincing and believable. They manage well the quick back and forth swings of time and place, and change with the mood of the scenes. Nicole also becomes the wraith of Charlie's sergeant with consummate skill. Never overplaying, these two maintain the varied pace and interest of the play throughout its ninety minute run. These are stellar performances.
© 2003, Jane Penistan