Oct. 17, 2012 - Issue #887: Dedfest
On a seemingly ordinary night in a sleepy pub in western Ireland, eerie stories of the supernatural begin to swirl, heightening in grandeur as the evening wears on as four men try to impress Valerie, a newcomer from Dublin who has a mysterious tale of her own.
"I read it and just fell in love with it immediately," director Anne Marie Szucs says of the script. "His (McPherson's) writing is very lyrical, the characters are very complex. It looks like just a typical evening in a pub, but it's anything but."
However, the supernatural element is not typical Halloween ghostly exaggeration. Szucs says the story is fitting given the time of year, but the supernatural element delves into the connection with people from our lives who have passed on.
"I get the sense this pub has been around for a long time and the spirits of people who used to visit it are still in it as well. It's that sense of community so that we don't lose that connection," says Szucs, who travelled to Ireland herself to do "pub research" for the production.
As the stories unfold, so do the layers of each character, creating a sense of connection amongst the group through storytelling. Gwyneth Kellii, making her Walterdale debut as Valerie, says establishing this connection comes down to a great deal of trust amongst the characters, particularly in Valerie's case as an outsider.
"This is a wonderful example of my own personal experience of coming to a new place and walking into your proverbial pub and meeting new people and having them welcome you with open arms. That's palpable in real life let alone on the stage," notes Kellii, who recently relocated to Edmonton from Vancouver. "Everyone's story is different, everyone has a different history, everyone has a different path, but we all sort of converge at these points in life and I would hope that the audience would eventually maybe look at the person next to them and be like, 'How did this happen, how did these convergences happen, how did we come together?' and be open to sharing. I think that can really create community."
"When Valerie tells her story, all masks are dropped and it's a sense of sharing, that revelation of what each person is going through, and then it allows them to connect with each other in a more meaningful way," Szucs notes. "We do that all the time as people. We engage and there's a surface level and then something real happens and you can't go back to that surface place."
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