A Theatre Festival in Newfoundland

Theatre is a wonderful thing. During a three-week holiday in Canada you are in Newfoundland at a remote outport (local term for an isolated coastal settlement where people grow up with strong cultural traditions), and you come across there a theatre festival, more specifically the Grose Morne Theatre Festival, at Cowhead. On offer is a two-hander about World War I. The theme of Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte is a familiar one: a romance between a local farmer who volunteers for military service and a young woman from a superior social class. But the dramatic treatment of the theme is anything but trite. Its structure is subtle, moving backwards and forwards in time, cross-referring the fear of military engagement with that of natural forces – lightning and thunder. The text moves easily from poetic declamation to simple dialogue to narrative exposition. And the able production by Stephen Drover has a rhythm and vitality which is aesthetically pleasing. By  scenographic means, he and his designer Brian Ball were able to conjure up contrasting images of a peaceful Canadian agricultural community and the Ypres battlefield. Full marks too to actors Jennifer Furlong and Charlie Furlong who captured our hearts throughout. Theatre is a wonderful thing.