Back to 1913 on Lake Huron
The play Fury, now on stage at the Blyth Festival, combines a heartbreaking love story with a stormy historic event. The romantic triangle of Margaret, David and Michael is set against the severe weather of hurricane proportions that hit Lake Huron in November 9, 1913.
This notorious blizzard took the lives of more than 250 people on the Great Lakes, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others. The financial loss of all the ships was substantial, not to mention the cargo, such as coal, iron ore, wood, and grain.
Fury, written by former Blyth Artistic Director Peter Smith, centres on the Wexford, a steel-hulled marvel that should have been able to withstand the high waves. She regularly visited the port of Goderich where the play is set.
Overshadowing the story of the great storm is Margaret’s tale. She has left her home in the Maritimes to live with her uncle, Judge Cassidy, in Goderich. Later we learn her tragic reason for leaving. The Judge has arranged for her to marry David, a young lawyer, but she meets and falls for a ne’er-do-well, Michael. Michael and his side-kick, Bernard, an Iroquois, become sailors aboard the Wexford.
Rachel Cairns is very good as Margaret: she uses clipped words and is curt with everyone, until she confesses her love for Michael. We forgive her blunt ways when we learn more of her past, and Cairns lets that character unfold. Jeff Irving and Keith Barker deserve credit for their very convincing fight that opens the show. Irving plays the loveable rogue perfectly and we see him mature as the story progresses. Barker demonstrates narcolepsy well, falling asleep with no notice. David Fox is excellent as the crusty and manipulative Judge Cassidy, while Jason Chesworth is believable as his accomplice, the paid suitor.
Credit goes to playwright Peter Smith and director Micheline Chevrier for giving us an intriguing story and a slice of the past together in one play. Local history buffs will enjoy this interesting piece of theatre.
Fury continues at the Blyth Festival in repertoire until September 12. Call 519-523-9300 / 1-877-862-5984 or go to www.blythfestival.com for tickets.
Photo: Jeff Irving as Michael and Rachel Cairns as Margaret. Photo by Terry Manzo.
Book & Lyrics by Peter Smith
Music By Samuel Sholdice
Directed by Micheline Chevrier
Performed by Keith Barker, Rachel Cairns, Jason Chesworth, David Fox, Jeff Irving.
Blyth Festival, Blyth
July 29 to September 12, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson