Mary’s Wedding

From War to Wedding and Back

Mary’s Wedding is an engaging tale with a melancholy ending, now on stage at the Blyth Festival.  A young couple meets, falls in a love and he then he leaves to fight for Canada in what was then called the Great War, or as we know it today, World War I.  I can’t reveal too much more of the story line for fear of spoiling the ending.

When Charlie (Eli Ham) comes on stage as the show begins, he sets up the audience in an attempt to avoid confusion.  We are told to remember that this is a dream, and that we are starting at the end and ending at the start or words to that effect. Mary's Wedding

A few weeks ago, I was dismayed by the confusion in The Wilberforce Hotel:  the audience didn’t know what was real, or a flashback, or PTSD, or a look at the future.  So it is good to have the central character provide a little background before the story begins to unfold.

Eli Ham is perfect as Charlie, the young farmer who isn’t quite in Mary’s social class, but falls for her anyway.  Then he feels a duty to go to war, and thoughts of her sustain him in the trenches.  We see him grow from a nervous youth to a more confident young man.

Sophia Walker handles two characters very well.  She is the beautiful, society girl, Mary, and she also plays a male role, Flowers, who is Charlie’s superior officer.  While Walker does an excellent job of making the audience aware of which character she is playing (she changes her voice and her mannerisms), I wonder how the story would unfold if there was a third actor playing the officer’s role.  Perhaps the switch from Mary to Flowers is all part of Charlie’s dream.  Blyth Festival is to be commended for both colour blind and gender-bending non-traditional casting.

During the play we are taken from a rural Canadian town, across the Atlantic on a boat, to the front lines of the First World War.

The set is intriguing.  The only building on the stage is a barn.  But when Mary’s mother is hosting a society tea, the barn transforms to a house with a tea wagon, a silver tea service and a beautiful chandelier. A cleverly constructed horse also appears on stage – large enough for both Charlie and Mary to mount together.  It is reminiscent of the horses used in the stage version of War Horse, but stationary.

There is no intermission, and as the sad ending becomes apparent, it seems a long time to sit. However, an intermission might have disrupted the building drama, so I can understand the reason. By the conclusion, you feel drained.  But there is a ray of hope for Mary’s future happiness.

Mary’s Wedding 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: Sophia Walker and Eli Ham. Photo by Terry Manzo.

Mary’s Wedding
By Stephen Massicotte
Directed by Gil Garratt
Performed by Eli Ham and Sophia Walker
Blyth Festival, Blyth
August 5 to September 12, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

 

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