The play’s author, Beth Henley, had three sisters and was focused on writing better roles for women on stage. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Crimes of the Heart captures incredible power of family

UVic’s Phoenix Theatre brings Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy to stage

Set against the backdrop of 1970s Mississippi, Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy sees sisters Meg, Babe and Lenny come together at their granddaddy’s home after five years of growing apart. Crimes of the Heart captures the incredible power of family, as the reunion – initiated after youngest sister Babe commits a violent crime – brings up past hurts as well as sweet memories.

Growing up with five sisters, Director Peter McGuire understands how complicated family dynamics can be.

“I’ve got five sisters, so when I watch these women interacting, and loving each other, and fighting, and dealing with the family history, I think, that’s me sitting in our kitchen watching my sisters coping with their lives,” says McGuire.

The play’s author, Beth Henley, had three sisters and was focused on writing better roles for women on stage.

”I like that in this play there is a lot of discussion around mental health but that the women aren’t weaker because of their mental health issues,” said Sara Jean Valiquette who plays middle sister Meg Magrath.

The play has been on director Peter McGuire’s list for years.

“Sometimes it is difficult to find very good plays for our female actors. This is one of them,” said McGuire. “During the auditions, I realized we had the perfect cast for this.”

“There’s just so much depth to these characters. You find new discoveries every night,” said Sophie Chappell who plays the oldest sister Lenny Magrath. “It’s really interesting to dig into these women who aren’t stereotypes, they’re real people.”

McGuire, who came out of the UVic theatre program in the 1970s, and returned years later to do his masters, returned for the third time to teach in the theatre department.

“When you are surrounded by over 200 bright, smart, intelligent, energetic, passionate young people, you really can’t help but love what you do every day,” said McGuire.

Crimes of the Heart runs at the Phoenix Theatre from Feb. 15 – 24.

There is a free Preshow Lecture on Friday (Feb. 16) at 7pm with the director, Peter McGuire, joined by Department Chair and theatre historian, Allana Lindgren.


Evenings at 8 p.m.: (Monday – Saturday) Feb. 15 , 16 , 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Matinees at 2 p.m.: Saturdays, February 17 and 24

Tickets: Weekdays & Matinees: $15 Student, $20 Senior, $26 Adult | Weekend Evenings: All seats $26

For more information contact Phoenix box office at 250-721-8000

Crimes of the Heart

February 15 – 24, 2018

By Beth Henley

Director: Peter McGuire

Set Design: Stefanie Mudry

Costume Design: Madeline Lee

Lighting Design: Patrick Du Wors

Sound Design: Nicholas Atkinson

Dialect Coach: Iris MacGregor-Bannerman

Stage Manager: Leah Hiscock


Duncan Alexander – Barnette Lloyd

Sophie Chappell – Lenny Magrath

Sheldon Graham – Doc Porter

Lucy Sharples – Babe Botrelle

Sara Jean Valiquette – Meg Magrath

Mary Van Den Bossche – Chick Boyle

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The play’s author, Beth Henley, had three sisters and was focused on writing better roles for women on stage. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

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