(Posted 9:30 a.m., Dec. 8)
holiday offering a tribute to days gone by
By Fred Sherwin
Perron plays Maria, the daughter of a French Canadian trapper, portrayed
by Pierre-Paul Filion, in the Vintage Stock Theatre production of 'First
Christmas - Le Premier NoŽl'. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Stock Theatre company's latest production of "First Christmas - Le Premier
NoŽl" is a wonderful throwback to the earliest days of community theatre
when budding thespians performed wherever they could find a space.
meant having to perform in community halls like the Lions Maple Hall in
Cumberland Village; schools, if they were big enough; and even barns, without
the benefit of lights or sound equip.m.ent.
- Le Premier NoŽl" is being performed in the rather austere confines
of the Orange Hall at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.
The play is set
in 1805 and tells the story of Eustace, an English-speaking surveyor played
by David Clemis, who is rescued by a French-speaking trapper, played by
Pierre-Paul Filion, after he gets lost in a snowstorm and falls through
the ice on a nearby river.
The trapper takes
Eustace to his cabin deep in the bush and nurses him back to health. The
two men who are thrown together by fate, celebrate Christmas morning far
away from their loved ones, but not before they almost come to blows thanks
to their inability to communicate with each other.
During his convalescence,
Eustace thinks about his departed mother who is played by Sarah Benfield.
During these recollections, we learn that Eustace's father was English and
that despite his mother being French, the language of the household was
story is told by his daughter Maria, played by Sara Perron, who is being
raised by the parish priest while her father scratches out a living in the
The two male
roles are acted out almost entirely in mime as the story is told through
a narrator. All the dialogue referring to the trapper is in French while
the ooposite is true for Eustace, which makes it difficult to follow the
plot line unless you have a working knowledge of both languages.
The stark confines
of the Orange Hall is a perfect setting for the play which takes place entirely
in the trapper's cabin. The small cast is terrific, as is Peter Holt who
transitions from French to English and back again with barely a bobble in
his role as the narrator.
The play was
written by Vintage Stock Theatre veteran Marni Hunt-Stephens, based on a
story by Susan Flemming, and adapted and directed by another long-time member
of the theatre company, John Cook.
A second performance
of "First Christmas - Le Premier NoŽl" will be held on Friday, Sept. 16at 1:30 p.m. Admission is included in the gate price for the museum
which is holding their annual Cultural Christmas on the same day. Tickets
are $12 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under and $30 for a family of
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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