Impressionist drama kicks of Fountain School’s theatre season

(originally published in Dal News October 11, 2016; edited October 27, 2016)

“The Rimers of Eldritch” runs through Saturday

Lara Lewis – October 11, 2016

(L-R): Brittney Whitaker as Mavis, Brandon Liddard as Peck and Kya Mosey as Patsy in
(L-R): Brittney Whitaker as Mavis, Brandon Liddard as Peck and Kya Mosey as Patsy in “The Rimers of Eldritch.” (Nick Pearce photos)

Faculty and students in the Fountain School of Performing Arts kick off a busy 2016-17 theatrical season Tuesday night with an adaptation of “The Rimers of Eldritch,” a mid-20th-century drama penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Lanford Wilson.

The play, which was directed by Dal faculty member Rob McClure, revolves around a small town reeling in the aftermath of the rape of a young woman. Its story is interwoven across the spring, summer, and fall of a year.

Wilson’s drama is described as a “dream play” by stage manager and third-year technical theatre student Wyatt McDougall, noting the use of lighting and sound as particularly vital to developing the tone of the show.

Kya Mosey, who plays Patsy Johnson, emphasises the relatability of the drama to audiences.

“It’s heartbreaking and painful in a horribly realistic way and it shows a very real look at things that probably happened so often and people who know things that get shoved under a rug,” says Mosey.

Mosey is costumed by third-year student Kaelen MacDonald, who says the show relies mainly on pulling old costumes from the Fountain School’s storage, weathering them appropriately, and fitting them to the actors.

(Left to right): Lisa Corey as Eva, Brittany Wuytenburg as Evelyn, Brittney Whitaker as Mavis, Kya Mosey as Patsy, and Sophie Schade as Lena.

“Patsy is a character who takes up a lot of fun space in the play . . . I get to work with a cashmere sweater — real cashmere — that was a splurge,” says MacDonald.

The show is the first production to be designed by the school’s new costume and set designer, Snězana Pěsić. The job was split between two people before her, and her students appreciate her effort. “She’s literally doing the work of two people,” MacDonald added. Pěsić’s designs are faithful to the mid-20th-century setting of a dilapidated coal-mining town.

“It’s very much a product of the mid-60s,” says McClure, noting the play’s complex storytelling and the challenge it brings from a technical, costuming, and acting perspective. McClure most recently directed “Our Country’s Good” in the 2014-15 season.

He lauds the play as a good choice for Fountain School’s graduating acting class. Despite the large size of the class, roles still had to be filled with third-year students Sophie Schade and Jonah Campbell, who would normally make their debut alongside their classmates in February.

Schade, who plays Lena in the production, notes the complexity of the script. “It’s a really simple narrative but it’s been chopped up into a bunch of different pieces and pasted back together all out of order,” she says, in the midst of running lines with Mosey.

The complexity of the play is not lost on the other cast members, either. Nathan D. Simmons, playing the Preacher and the Judge, found the text difficult to follow at first.

Nathan Simmons as the Preacher and Judge.

“This play is a complete puzzle — like its progression from beginning to end and its timeframe, for example. It’s all jumbled together and we had to sit down together and decide which way it would go. Is this the future or past, and if it’s the future, then how does that affect the way the line is delivered?” says Simmons.

Samantha Thompson, playing Nellie, focuses on the teamwork it takes to bring this production together. In reference to this and the other performances in their season (which include four plays, an opera, and countless recitals), Thompson says “I think the major thing this does is set us as an ensemble and I think that’s what this season’s really all about — “Midsummer” and “Coram Boy” — the choral scenes show how well we can work together.”

“The Rimers of Eldritch” runs October 11-15 with shows at 7:30 and 2:00 matinee on the 15th in the David Mack Murray Theatre, in the Dalhousie Arts Centre (6101 University Avenue). Tickets are available from the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office.

Kayla Gunn as Cora and Zachary Comeau as Walter.

Lisa Corey as Eva.

(Left to right): Jonah Campbell as Trucker, Adrian Choong as Josh, Brandon Liddard as Peck, and Nathan Simmons as Preacher and Judge.
Sam Vigneault as Robert and Lisa Corey as Eva.


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