Originally from Nova Scotia and winner of a Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2007, Daniel MacIvor is one of Canada’s foremost playwrights, having authored over 30 plays. From 1998, MacIvor’s play, now a classic, has been brought to the stage dozens of times, and was made into a film directed by Wiebke von Carolsfeld in 2002.
Three unique sisters reunite in the last days of their mothers’ life and deal very differently with long-kept secrets as they grieve. Taking place in Cape Breton, the play is governed by its dialogues and three central monologues, one by each of the main characters.
Three fantastic and veteran actresses made the production; their sibling chemistry on set seemed true to life, in the good times and the tenser moments.
Well-known actress and documentary filmmaker Jackie Torrens was very strong as Louise, the taciturn boyish younger sister.
An actress based in Halifax, Kim Parkhill was Agnes, the wild sister from away, who returns after a long time, still haunted by her teen pregnancy. Parkhill had great energy on stage, clumsily rediscovering her two sisters and wishing for redemption.
From Toronto, actress and teacher Michelle Polak rounded out the cast as Theresa, the nun, a grounding force in the family, but the character that changes the most during the play.
In MacIvor’s play, the mother is an absent figure who is talked about but no seen onstage; Morgan Jones’ production chose to illustrate her presence though a window floating above the stage.
A lovely metaphor for “home,” Patrick Clark’s modern, stark and angular set design, filled with voids, was complemented by Leigh Ann Vardy’s beautiful lighting design –highlighted by the lighthouse effect and sky- and Michael Doherty’s parsimonious injections of the loud howl of wind or waves crashing on the shore.
Theatre New Brunswick should be lauded for a fantastic season, and specifically for bringing Maritime plays to the stage, with themes that are common and relevant to the NB public. Fredericton theatregoers are surely looking forward to next season’s offerings already.
Find out more at Theatre New Brunswick.
Sophie M. Lavoie is an editor and writer on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op.