The Blyth Festival has a history of creating dramatic works that address headline grabbing events in the province. The Pigeon King (2017), for example, was based on a $70 million ponzi scheme involving breeding phony “racing” pigeons. In the Wake of Wettlaufer continues the tradition. But whereas The Pigeon King told the story of how Arlan Galbraith bilked hundreds of farmers, Wettlaufer takes a different tack, one that is devastatingly effective, writes reviewer Kelly Mohoghan on his website, The Intrepid Travelogue.
Co-authors Gil Garratt and Kelly McIntosh focus not on the criminal and her modus operandi but on the human toll the scandal takes on a single fictional family of four siblings, three daughters and a son, dealing with the dementia of their father and his eventual placement in a long-term care facility. Wettlaufer isn’t even mentioned until almost an hour into the play, when their father is dead and buried. Like everyone else affected by the revelation of Wettlaufer’s confession the siblings learn of the case, not from the nursing home, not from the health authorities, but from the evening news, he writes.
The siblings in the cast, Caroline Gillis, Nathan Howe, Rachel Jones, and Jane Spidell, are uniformly excellent. I would single out Ms. Spidell only because she was a late addition to the company. Robert King offers a moving and scarily accurate portrait of a man descending into the hell of dementia.
Please read his full review on his website.
Photo: Blyth Festival’s In the Wake of Wettlaufer, co-written by Kelly McIntosh and Gil Garratt, runs until Sept. 6. Robert King plays Frank and Rachel Jones plays his daughter, Lynn. Creative team is: Gil Garratt, director and set designer; Rebecca Picherack, lighting designer; Lyon Smith, sound designer; and Gemma James-Smith, costume designer. Stage management by Christine Oakey and Daniel Oulton. Photo credit: Terry Manzo.