St Luke’s Players return to the stage this month with a pair of timeless plays.
The curtain rises Oct. 11 on St. Luke’s latest offering, a pair of one-act plays: The Twelve-Pound Look, and Separate Tables – Table No. 7.
The Twelve-Pound Look may have been written more than a century ago, but the play by J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) tackles relationship issues that still ring true today.
On the eve of Harry Sims’ knighthood, his much younger wife hires a typist to handle all of his congratulatory mail. The typist arrives and it turns out to be Harry’s ex-wife.
“He doesn’t understand that she is happy, and she wasn’t happy with his success,” said the play’s director Michael King.
He said the pair then try to explain their way of thinking to each other in the play that has been performed almost constantly somewhere since it was first published in 1910. The play stars Carl Powell, Ada Guna, Steve Eastman and Wendy Cornock.
“It’s kind of a favourite play of the suffragette. It’s from that time period from before women had the right to vote, it’s very ahead of it’s time,” said King.
The second play is based on the second-act of Terence Rattigan’s 1953 play Separate Tables, which became a movie starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr. It focuses on Major Pollock, the extroverted alter-ego of a shy and mild-mannered man.
“He’s not outgoing, unless he’s the Major. And then’s it’s all ‘What ho and pip pip and all that rot.’ But that’s not who he is, he’s created that,” said King.
But the version performed by St. Luke’s Players will be somewhat different than the story published by Rattigan and made into a movie.
“The offence the Major gets arrested for in the [original] play is nudging young ladies in the cinema. And a lot of the lines in it didn’t make a lot of sense,” said King, adding that Rattigan’s original version had the Major being arrested for soliciting young men.
“His publishers or agents talked him out of publishing it that way because they were afraid the British people wouldn’t accept it,” said King, who has taken the play back to the way it was originally written.
“Suddenly when we changed these words around, the other lines made sense. It’s just as appropriate today as when it was written, except we never saw it as it was written.”
The play stars Eric Grace as the Major, and features a cast of Rosalind Coleman, Heather Lee, Penny Pitcher, Joy Farrell, Ada Guna, Colleen Davis, Lisa Jackson, Trisha Tonkin, Nick Atkinson and Roland Wille.
“All the other characters have to go through their own search to figure out if they are OK with the Major. They have all figured out he is a bit of a fraud, and they all speak their opinions on it,” said King, calling the final outcome wonderful. “It’s a beautiful play and it means as much today as when it was written, probably more.”
But bringing the play to the St. Luke’s stage presented more than a few challenges.
“It was a bit of a tough rehearsal process,” said King, adding with so many Shakespeare productions taking place in the city, along with the Fringe Festival, it was hard to fill the characters in the cast.
King eventually approached Grace, who he had worked with before, about the role of the Major, but he was travelling to China for the summer.
“He is absolutely amazing. He came and had about six or seven rehearsals with us, then was off to China,” said King, adding Grace returned at the end of September to pick up with rehearsals.
This is King’s fourth production with St. Luke’s, and says this is the favourite thing he’s worked on.
“Both plays are about people who are searching for answers, searching for themselves.”
Shows run at St. Luke’s Hall, 3821 Cedar Hill Cross Rd., at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21, along with 2 p.m. matinees Oct. 14, 15, 21 and 22.
Tickets cost $16 and are available at the door as well as through eventbrite.ca.