Arts Club Theatre Company on Tour

Date and Venue 1-29 Mar 2010 Various locations: Lower Mainland

Reviewer Ed Farolan

There comes a time in one's life when one looks back at past loves. Director Michael Fera gets nostalgic in this sense. In his notes he says that he played the role of Jacob Mercer 25 years ago at UBC. Like all love stories, this one is taken from a Canadian viewpoint, perhaps a semi-biographical family story of the playwright David French born in Coley`s Point where the story takes place. The 80-minute no-intermission play takes place on a moonlit porch in Coley's Point, in 1926. Young Jacob Mercer (Charlie Carrick) has returned home to Newfoundland to win back the heart of his soul mate, Mary (Abby Creek).

Although the actors spoke in Newfoundland linggo, it wasn`t difficult to understand. They enunciated clearly and the Surrey Arts Theatre where I attended opening night last March 2nd had excellent acoustics. This play has won a number of awards and French himself has received a number of citations including the Order of Canada in 2001.

French has written a number of plays based on the Mercer family, known as the Mercer Plays (Of the Fields, Lately , Salt-Water Moon , 1949, Soldier's Heart). His first play, Leaving Home (1971) ), is about, Jacob Mercer already married to Mary and ith a family moving to Ontario from Newfoundland. In 1985, he wrote Salt-Water Moon which takes us back to Jacob who finally wins the hand of Mary on a moonlitnight in Coley`s Point.

Director Michael Fera elicited superb performances from both actors who felt comfortable with each other as Jacob uses everything at his disposal, from family pride to the bald spot of Mary`s fiance, to win Mary over. The set design by Ted Roberts brought out the rural yet romantic ambience of this small seacoast village in Newfoundland.

The show continues to tour in various locations in the Lower Mainland. The Arts Club Theatre Company has been producing a lot of Canadian shows, and continue doing so. Coming up are Paradise Garden (March 11-April 11) and Billy Bishop Goes to War (March 25-April 17), themes which somehow express the pride of Canadians for what Canada has become.

I remember 20 years ago when Canadians were apathetic to being Canadian, but now, observing the Winter Olympics here in Vancouver, flag-waving, using maple leaf jerseys -- how changed the Canadians of today have become! And that`s probably why we won all those gold medals. Canadians now believe in being Canadian.

© 2010 Ed Farolan