Central Alberta Theatre dives into a brand new dinner theatre season with Crimes of the Heart, opening Oct. 26th at the Black Knight Inn.
Directed by CAT veteran Craig Scott and written by Beth Henley, the acclaimed play, which was also adapted for the silver screen back in 1986, runs through to Nov. 10th with dinner starting at 6 p.m.
The story follows some of the experiences of the Magrath sisters – Babe, Lenny and Meg.
“Essentially, the three sisters get reunited because Babe has gone and shot her abusive husband,” explains Scott, adding the setting for the play is in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.
“They are getting together after being separated for a few years – Babe (Rebecca Lozinski) being married for the past three years. Meg (Vanessa McCagg) had left for Hollywood during this time as well, so she hasn’t been back home either. And Lenny (Alicia Maedel) has been home holding down the fort and taking care of granddad who has raised the sisters since they were 14, 11 and eight.”
There is much, much more to these three women than what might first be assumed – they’ve known their share of family dysfunction and there’s fall out from all of that to work through. “Babe’s story drives the play in my opinion.”
Ultimately, Scott said the story is about the complexities of family relationships. And although there are funny spots as the story unfolds, it’s largely a dramatic show that tackles lots of pretty serious and intense issues.
“To me, it’s a drama – not a comedy. It has funny parts in it, and yes it starts out really funny. But it also deals with a whole bunch of serious issues so there are some emotions there. It really deals with how siblings can get along one moment, and hate each other the next,” he added with a chuckle. “It gets quite loud onstage, and should be a lot of fun to watch,” he said, adding that critics have previously described the production as a ‘roller coaster of emotions’.
“But they are also very loyal to each other, and that comes out as well. It’s fine and dandy for them to pick on each other, but if someone else is picking on one of them, then God forbid.”
Scott also pointed out that the women are also dealing with their mother’s suicide which took place when they were just girls. That was also when they went to live with their grandparents in Hazlehurst.
“Each one of them is dealing with it differently.”
Scott, who is an outstanding actor in his own right, said when he was first considering the play, he was also thinking about its relevancy to today as it was penned in 1978.
First off, the complications that come with families haven’t changed. “Then there’s the ‘MeToo’ campaign, and the fact that Babe stands up for herself against an abusive husband. That has relevance as well. And then I realized that the other relevance is that of depression and suicide. I thought how that is totally relevant, especially in today’s society.
“I also hope that the audience, by the end of it, questions what their thoughts are on depression, and what they can do to help. That’s what theatre is about. We should challenge the audience, and have them come back with a deeper understanding of who they are and where they are,” he said.
As mentioned, Scott is a solid actor, but these days, directing plays is the aspect of theatre that seems to be where his heart is most.
“Directing is easier than acting in my opinion, ” he said with a smile, adding that for starters, he’s not the one who has to learn the lines.
“I find that having good actors always helps to make it easy. I act so that I can be part of something and enjoy the individual accolades. But when I direct, I’m more like a proud father looking at my kids and being proud about how they managed to pull together performances to make a great play. So I guess that’s probably how I look at it.”
As for Henley’s enduring script, Scott said he’s a fan of how she effectively pulled all of the pieces together.
“I like the interactions among the sisters because like I said, they can be loving in one breath and then fighting in the next. I also like her character development – they are rich. They aren’t weak. There’s a reason why she won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for this play.
“It’s also actually one of the most performed plays in the United States to this day. So those are all of the things that I really enjoy about the show.”
For ticket information, head to tickets.blackknightinn.ca.