by James Reaney
Directed by Barbara Larose
“It’s love’s solution to the puzzle of hatred.”
So is it just me who didn’t know what a killdeer was until I read this play? Really? The killdeer is a small bird, known for feigning a broken wing to draw predators away from its nest, which is built on open ground, and for calling out its own name. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killdeer
James Reaney (1926 – 2008) was already an award-winning poet by the late 1950s, when he was encouraged by a friend, director Pamela Terry, to write a piece for Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre (then located on Bedford Road). The resulting work, The Killdeer, launched his drama career when it premiered in January 1960, directed by Terry. Alumnae Theatre Company presents The Killdeer as this season’s Retrospective Choice – part of our ‘Countdown to 100’ as we head toward the century mark – the company is now 95 years young!
Reaney was influential in establishing a style of writing that came to be called ‘Southern Ontario Gothic’ (later made famous by Alice Munro), and that style permeates The Killdeer. Director Barbara Larose describes the tone as a combination of realism, fairy tale and magic, a piece filled with humour and poetic imagery and metaphor – “It’s dense and challenging. This play excites me”, she says. “It is a story of growth and coming of age, with elements of love and innocence, a search for identity, and a courtroom drama that arises from a murder mystery. “
With vines erupting from walls and a tree indoors, set designer Marysia Bucholc creates a sense of “nature climbing in” as the civilized social order fails to fully impose itself on natural growth and impulse. Lighting designer Ed Rosing evokes the effect of light falling into a forest glade. Costume designer Razie Brownstone takes inspiration from the script, in which characters are compared to natural elements (a mushroom, a carrion crow, the killdeer, etc.). Sound designer Rick Jones has composed a score incorporating thematic material inspired by John Beckwith‘s original music from the 1960 production, as well as “magical elements” – a gypsy motif for Madam Fay, bird cries, the storm, etc., to create a total sensory experience.
Alumnae Theatre Company’s new production of The Killdeer features Tricia Brioux and her real-life nephew Matt Brioux as long-absent cosmetic saleswoman Madam Fay and her childlike son Eli; Rob Candy as the sinister “hired man” Clifford; Paul Hardy as young lawyer Harry; Blythe Haynes as Rebecca, the girl he loves; Anne Shepherd as Harry’s meddlesome mother; Marie Carrière Gleason as her gossipy friend; Naomi Vondell as the jailer’s wife; Tina McCulloch, Joanne Sarazen and Michael Vitorovich in dual roles; and Peter Higginson as the swamp hermit, Dr. Ballad.
Tickets can be reserved at 416-364-4170, box 1. Payment in cash only on arrival. Or you can purchase online (for Wed – Sat performances only) at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html
Tickets for Sunday matinees are available for in-person cash only sales at Box Office. Box Office opens one hour before performances.
PERFORMANCES Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm. A Talkback with director & cast follows the April 21 matinee.
TICKET PRICES: Wednesday 2-for-1; Thursday/ Friday/Saturday $20; Sunday PWYC.