Cineplex - Planes: Fire & Rescue
City Cinema – Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
Brackley Drive-In - Tammy & Neighbors
P.E.I.’s Homegrown Atlantic is a radio show dedicated to the musicians of Prince Edward Island & Atlantic Canada, hosted by East Coast Music Association Member, Blair Dewar.http://www.homegrownatlantic.com
In it’s 7th season Watermark Theatre is getting a pretty good reputation for it’s period pieces. In another American Classic The Rainmaker is a play written by N. Richard Nash in the early 1950s about believing in yourself. It was directed by Jerry Etienne.
Set in the 1930’s, a Southern family is in desperate need of some better luck. David Bulger plays H.C. Curry, the overworked, optimistic father who just wants everyone to be happy. Noah (Jonathan Widdifield) is the big brother in charge of the farm with a very good work ethic, but is obsessed with the budget & doesn’t believe in having fun. Jimmy, (Alex Furber) a lovable dimwitted country-boy, is interested in a girl Noah doesn’t approve of. And Lizzie (Watermark newcomer Leah Pritchard) is the often charming, sometimes hotheaded farmer’s daughter who is dreaming of finding a good man to marry but has absolutely no faith in herself.
Life during a drought can be pretty disheartening, but the funny conversations about relationship problems gave the audience lots to smile about in the first act. Brian Bisson’s character File, a Deputy & possible love interest for poor Lizzie, has a tortured past & much difficulty showing his true feelings. Then came perhaps the most fascinating cast member of all, Starbuck (Robert Tsonos), a mysterious stranger with an intriguing proposition.
Act 2 raised the tension to a boil in this story and there now seemed more at stake than simply hoping for rain to fall. Starbuck, who is absolutely full of tall tales, somehow becomes more believable. He really goes out of his way to show the Curry’s that anything is possible setting the stage for some fast-paced drama in Act 3. I was very impressed with the way so many unanswered questions seemed to resolve in an unanticipated event at the end.
This show has lots of laughter and I’m sure audiences will have a great time pondering the possibilities Starbuck’s imagination. The dynamics between characters were never dull and conversations had great flow. I liked how the rustic décor and air of hopelessness on the farm reminded me of last summer’s Charlottetown Festival hit Dear Johnny Deere. The 1930’s feel of the music was also very pleasant. The Rainmaker is another fine example of the high standard of talent and creativity to be found at Rustico’s Watermark Theatre!
So your family Christmases are dysfunctional, are they?
Try spending the holidays with King Henry II and the rest of his Plantagenet clan, who are the ancestors of the present Queen of England. The cut-throat family dynamic is best described by Eleanor of Aquitaine when John, her acne-prone simpleton son, expresses surprise when his lion-hearted brother Richard attacks him. “Of course he’s got a knife,” she says. “We’ve all got knives. It’s 1183 and we’re Barbarians.”
The Plantagenets are ugly in their ambition but the production is beautiful in its intricate simplicity. The cold and calculating characters are offset by the rich warmth of the set, costumes and lighting, showcasing various shades and textures of red with candlelight and cosy furs.
The relationships are complex and the characters are well constructed. The most elaborate association is that of Eleanor and her husband Henry. It’s not clear from the start whether the estranged royal couple is still in love or want to destroy each other. Perhaps both. There’s no telling the effects imprisoning one’s wife can have on a marriage. It’s also difficult to know what any of the Plantagenets are really thinking or feeling as they work toward accomplishing their own ends. King Phillip of France (played by Brian Bisson) is equally cryptic in his dealings with the English royals.
The only forthright character is the ethereal Alais (pronounced Alesse), played by Watermark newcomer Leah Pritchard. She is Henry’s innocent mistress but is in no way clueless. She’s clever enough to read the family’s real intentions but wise enough to know she can’t possibly compete with them. She accepts her place as a pawn but does so on her own terms, always betting on the King’s love for her.
The script by James Goldman is a gift to any actor. It has a rhythm that would yield a star performance out of amateur actors but the stellar Watermark players made this work a supernova. The ensemble cast, led by venerable actors Gracie Finley (Eleanor) and John Dartt (Henry), interacted with each other very well. The younger performers in the company would be wise to learn some lessons from Finley and Dartt but held their own against the theatrical juggernauts.
The show moves quickly but may take over 2 hours of your time. It is well worth it, though, and there are two 10-minute intermissions so you can stretch your legs. The cast and crew worked seamlessly and director Duncan McIntosh did a wonderful job of bringing everything together to form an amazing production.
The Lion in Winter was dedicated to the memory of Jack MacAndrew. The tam-wearing Watermark patron would have definitely enjoyed this piece. I wouldn’t mind going again, come to think of it.
Thanks to programs at the Watermark, certain seats are available for students and seniors at $10 each. That’s a steal. At this price, I would go see this show every day it played until August 30th. It has so many layers, I would probably catch something new with each viewing.