Wendy Lill's SISTERS


by Victoria Farolan

by Wendy Lill
co-directed by Donna Spencer & Glen Cairns
Firehall Arts Centre
Now Playing until November 15th
Tickets: 689-0926

This painfully tragic drama about a nun suspected of burning down her convent-run Native residential school in rural Nova Scotia in the late 1960s was so emotionally powerful and beautifully executed that I had tears in my eyes when the lights came down.

I was brought up in a convent school run by nuns in the Philippines during the same period, and I had almost identical flashbacks as I watched this rivetting drama unfold. I remember types like the severe Mother Agnes who was portrayed superbly by Elizabeth McLaughlin; or the compassionate Sister Gabriel played tastefully by Patricia Idlette; and the main character of the play Sister Mary, with Cheri Maracle as the young Mary, a 17-year old farm girl, and as the older Sister Mary, Marie Clements, who gives an admiringly powerful and intense performance for this difficult role.

The directorial approach to Sister Mary's flashbacks was excellently executed. As she spoke to Stein, the cynical and sardonic lawyer well-played and cast to the T for Patrick Keating, at first, I couldn't tell what was happening: what the groaning sounds were in the background interspersed with children singing, why two scenes were taking place at the same time--but then, as the drama unfolded, I realized what was happening. What precision, what timing and cuing and naturally hard work, the directors and the actors put into this mise-en-scene!

Congratulations to the cast, (special mention to Ben Odberg as Louis who played his role convincingly as a sincere farm boy in love with the young Mary)and especially to the Production staff-- to Ted Roberts for his lighting design with the reflection of Christ crucified through that beautifully coloured stained glass reflection (I thought I was actually inside a Catholic Church!), and to John Mills-Cockell for his creativity in the play's sound design.