(Posted Oct. 5)
Stock 'Shades of the Evening' production a touching retrospective
By Fred Sherwin
Old Phoebe, played by Micheline Mathon, talks
to her mother Morhannah, played by Kimberly
McGrath, during Vintage Stock Theatre's Shades
of the Evening production of 'A Life In a
Day'. Fred Sherwin Photo
time every year the Vintage Stock Theatre company stages
it's annual "Shades of the Evening" production
on the grounds of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.
In years past, the production has been
based on historical events and figures with a local connection.
This year the theatre company chose a script written by
local playwrite Susan Flemming and directed by Sarah Benefield
that takes a departure from previous productions.
Life In a Day tells the story of Irish immigrants in places
like Cumberland and Navan through the recollections of
Phoebe Catherine Walker who was born in 1903.
story is told through a series of vignettes in which she
gets to visit moments in time including shortly after
her birth; preparing for a history contest as a young
girl; her first day as a teacher; seeing her husband off
at the onset of the Great War; having him return after
being blinded in gas attack; becoming a seamstress after
the death of both her husband and her eldest son who is
killed in the Second World War; and finally with her great
granddaughter and namesake shortly before her death at
the age of 100.
attacking is all wonderful, especially the performance
of Micheline Mathon in the lead role of Old Phoebe. Sophia
Hullin and Meredith Woods also stood out as the teenage
Phoebe and her best friend Louisa. But the real star of
the play is the script.
is masterful at telling a story in such a way that the
entire audience can relate to it, while placing it in
a historical context.
Phoebe we learn about the ordeals the early Irish settlers
went through starting with their passage across the Atlantic
on the aptly-named "coffin ships" in which thiusands
died who are now buried on Grosse Isle near Quebec City.
also learn about how Irish settlers helped build hundreds
of communities in Canada like Cumberland and Carslbad
Springs and Navan, timber by timber and brick by brick.
touches on the major battles in World War I and the use
of gas by the Germans in places like Ypres and Passchendale
and how the returning soldiers brought back the Spanish
Flu with them leading to the deaths of nearly 50,000 Canadians
and more than 50 million worldwide.
are other things that make A Life In a Day so special,
like the love of flowers Phoebe shared with her mother
including an affinity for their Latin scientific names
and genus. By the end of the play we are left feeling
both sympathetic and fulfilled. Phoebe's story comes full
circle with her passing after 100 years on earth and the
expectant birth of her great great granddaughter.
cast includes Kimberly McGrath as Phoebe's mother Morhannah;
Karine Longpre as Young Phoebe; Reid DeLong as Phoebe's
husband Daniel; Gisele Rivest as Middle Phoebe; Marseille
Lachance as the great granddaughter; Troy Arsenian as
Craig; and Pierrette Woods and Ellen Manchee who each
played Mrs. Heaps.
Shades of the Evening series is made even more magical
as a result of it being staged entirely by lamplight.
The production simply moves from one location to another
on the museum grounds.
play will come to a close with a final performance tonight
at 8 p.m. The Cumberland Heritage Village Museum is located
on Old Montreal Road jut east of Cumberland Village. Admission
is $15 per person.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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