Hoarse Raven Theatre
Salt Water Moon
By David French

Dates and Venue 15 July - 1 August 2009 @ 8pm | Jericho Arts Centre, Vancouver

Director Michael Fera Costume Designer Rita Aripova Set & Lighting Designer Mimi Abrahams Stage Manager Gia Nahmens

Reviewer Jane Penistan

David French has written a clever script in which he describes the hardship of the early 20th century Newfoundlanders and of their contribution to the allied victory of the First World War. He wraps his history and sociology lesson in a charming moonlit romance.

In 1926 Jacob Mercer (Joel Grinke) disappeared from Coley’s Point a year ago to work in Ontario, and his erstwhile girlfriend, Mary Snow (Abby Renee Creek), hasn’t had word from him since. Out stargazing on a moonlit summer’s evening, while most of the villagers are at a wake, Mary is surprised by hearing Jacob’s voice and then startled as he appears on the road. Jacob has heard that Mary is now engaged to a wealthy, but unprepossessing neighbour, Jerome Mackenzie, and has hastened home to woo her again. Justifiably, Mary is furious with Jacob’s having left with out a goodbye, but that is not the reason she has thrown over Jacob for Jerome.

In the course of their ensuing quarrels, Jacob tells Mary of Jerome’s father’s profiteering during the war, while her own father was killed, leaving her mother a penniless widow with two small daughters. Jacob’s father was wounded at Beaumont Hamel when Mary’s father was killed. The opulent elder Mackenzie humiliated Jacob’s father in a fishing contract and has done nothing to help Mary’s impecunious and now incapacitated mother, who had had to put her daughters into an orphanage, where the younger daughter is still, and is being mistreated, while Mary now works as a housemaid to aristocratic local landowners. Ultimately the lovers are reconciled and the summer’s night ends happily.

Both Abby Renee Creek and Joel Grinke are young and inexperienced actors, but sustained the eighty minutes of the play with considerable success. Joel Grinke managed the Newfoundland accent consistently and was believably a young man trying to come to terms with the hard life that Newfoundland presented in the early 1920’s. Abby Renee Creek was a young woman trying to grow up in a harsh world and do her best for her mother and her sister.

Michael Fera directed this production recognizing the heartbreak and the sustaining humour of the script, which never descends into sentimentality. The good pace here was maintained throughout, no mean feat for two young actors.

I enjoyed this evening and learnt a lot about Newfoundland.

© 2009 Jane Penistan