Volume 10 Week 23

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated Nov. 21

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Updated March 184

Phil McNeely
Posted Feb. 12






(Posted 10:30 a.m., Oct. 2)
Lamplight production an entertaining lesson in Canadian history
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

André Dimitrijevic's character, Jozef Wysniski, comforts Robert Lough, played by Tyler Smith, in Vintage Stock Theatre's latest lamplight production, 'Divided Loyalty: The Rebellions of 1837 in Cumberland', on this weekend at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. Fred Sherwin/Photo

I've always thought of myself as being somewhat of a history buff, especially when it comes to Canadian history which was one of my best subjects in high school.

Perhaps it's the passage of time, or perhaps I missed school that day, but I don't recall learning anything about the Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions of 1837.

If only my history class was as entertaining as Vintage Stock Theatre's latest lamplight production "A Divided Loyalty: The Rebellions of 1837 in Cumberland", which continues on the grounds of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum this weekend.

The play is performed entirely by lamplight over the course of six vignettes or scenes. In the first scene the play's narrator, a young boy played by Tyler Smith, meets a stranger who has suffered an injury after getting in a tussle with a dog.

During the scene the stranger, played by Andre Dimitrijevic, tells the boy he's Polish. We also learn that he came to Canada after fighting a war in Poland in which their European allies failed to come to their aid.

The boy begins to tell Jozef, or Joe, about the Rebellions and how the local residents formed a militia under Archibald Petrie to fight against the rebels led by William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau.

In the second scene, Archilbald reads the order outside the village church. All able-bodied men are to muster in a field beside his house the next day to begin training. But not everyone is exited about the idea of being ordered to leave their farms to fight for the Crown, including James McCrae who lives on the far side of Cumberland Township by the Bear Brook. But when McCrae, played by Vintage Stock veteran John Cook, tries to object his loyalties are immediately called into question.

It's not until the third scene that the audience gets an idea of the intrigue that permeated the area during 1837 and 1838. Nanette Lacroix is sympathetic to the rebel cause. A resident of the Pontiac, she has come to see her father and brothers to try and talk them out of fighting for the loyalists, but first she tries to convince her step.m.other Angélique Lacroix, played by Ginette Davis.

In one of the best scenes of the play, the two woman each plead their case. Angélique is terrified of the danger her stepdaughter will put the family in, but Nanette, played by Sylvie Lapointe, is nonplused by her step.m.other's plea, is ready to defend the rebel cause no matter what the consequences. When she leaves her father's house she runs into Marie Edmond, a servant girl, who is also a rebel sympathizer, played by Émélie Perron-Clow.

While working in the Petrie household she overhears the planned troop movement and writes it all down. Nanette tells her to take a boat across the river and deliver the information to the rebel leaders.

The remaining scenes include a conversation between Archibald Petrie's wife, played by Sarah Benfield and and Margaret Lough, played by Lynn Lebel, in which the two women try to make sense of the conflict.

There's also a very funny scene showing the men fumbling through their drills complaining about not getting enough to eat, or proper boots. As it turns out their services won't be needed after all, the deciding battle of the Upper Canada rebellion was fought without them and they can go back to their farms.

It's impossible for me to describe the final scene without giving the ending away, but I can say that Smith's performance throughout the entire play was absolutely outstanding, especially considering his age. He is, indeed, one of the rising young stars in the east end theatre scene. Dimitrijevic's performance was superb as well and together they were mesmerizing.

In the long list of Vintage Stock Theatre lamplight productions I've seen over the years, "Divided Loyalty" is by far the best. When I went to see the play last Friday, there was a light drizzle falling which only added to the mood.

Susan Flemming's script is superb and the acting is top notch. In fact, it is one of the best ensemble productions I have seen in some time. All of which to say, if you are free any night this weekend and what to be both entertained and educated, you see go out of your way to see "Divided Loyalty". You will not be disappointed.

Besides the people I've already mentioned, the rest of the cast includes Gord Smith as Lieutenant White, Ian McGregor as Archibald Petrie and Scott Kristjanson as William Lough. Hayden Smith and Michael Kavcic are sharing the role of Reverend Bell.

Special mention as well to Ron Yuill, who is responsible for all the props and making sure the lanterns are in working order, and Wendy Smith and the rest of the custume and makeup crew who appear to have worked overtime. Last but not least, kudos to all the lantern bearers who toil away each year in total anonymity.

“A Divided Loyalty: The Rebellions of 1837 in Cumberland,” continues this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. Tickets are $15 each and showtime is 8 p.m. Please not that the play is outdoors so you should dress appropriately.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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