Jerome of Sandy Cove is a play based on an old Maritime legend. A man with no legs is washed up on shore. Unable or unwilling to speak, he is passed from home to home, dependent on the charity of the townspeople to survive.
What I immediately observed about this play was the relation between Jerome’s (Zach Creatchman) passivity and the other characters. As a character, Jerome doesn’t do much. He sits in his wheelchair, and his only interaction with others is to growl when being touched or to roll away from interaction he doesn’t like. In contrast, his presence catalyzes the inner conflicts of the families he stays with. Jerome exasperates their negative traits — greed, violence, and exploitation to name a few. On the other hand, their charity is a double-edged sword. The townspeople get money for taking care of Jerome, but they go as far as setting up a freak show to make more money from his appearance.
What was striking about the play was the perfection of its costumes. Rachel-Anne Germinario, the costume designer, did an excellent job. The play spans from the American Civil War to the Titanic, and the costumes match the styles of the times. Her work was excellent. You could imagine her costumes being in a museum, or worn by the staff at Upper Canada Village. The costumes made the play for me.
The set was a simple collection of boxes and lanterns, which made it easy for the cast to change the stage layout between scenes. Though utilitarian, they compliment the action on-stage and do not detract from the actors. I found the lighting a little dark, but it could have been intentional given the historical period.
One thing I found difficult to follow was the number of players and roles. The acting was very well done, but I feel that fleshing out the cast or cleaning up some of the extras may be a good way to improve this play. Still, Jerome, the singular focus of the production is a constant. He doesn’t age or change like the rest of the cast does.
To conclude, this was an enjoyable production, especially when you figure in the fact that this is the playwright and director’s (Christopher Moore) first work. It fills a void in Canadiana, especially in Quebec, where we don’t get exposed to the rich culture of Atlantic Canada. Overall, this was a refreshing foray into the frontiers of my knowledge of Canadian history. The play stayed with me, and I find myself staring into space wondering who Jerome really was.
Jerome of Sandy Cove plays in Montreal until October 16 at the Mainline Theatre. Tickets HERE. $25/20
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