Often when people think of Cape Breton theatre, they will think of the Cape Breton Summertime Revue. Sunshine and smiles—making fun of ourselves, all with some tunes, and of course, a good number of pogey jokes. This week, the Cape Breton Stage Company is offering an alternative to that idea of Cape Breton theatre.
Insulate, the new play by Mike McPhee, is anything but sunshine and smiles. Rather, it deals with a young couple experiencing the loss of their child and trying to get them back. Beyond that, McPhee explains, “It’s about people, everyday, in this community. Real people.” He goes on to say that, though it is set in Cape Breton, the ideas are universal. Given this, the hope is that people will feel a personal connection to the story and to the characters. Eventually, the idea of Cape Bretoners telling their own story will become less the alternative and more the norm.
Last year, Mike wrote and directed Now-Nothing, a tragedy set in Glace Bay, dealing with moving away and coming to grips with the demons of the past. Insulate too deals with past demons, but McPhee explains that “where Now-Nothing had people at the end of their rope, Insulate has people at the middle of the rope.” The characters are only now realizing their situation, and are not quite ready to come to grips with it.
This could be a big challenge for any actor, but the actors performing the piece seemed to have no trouble at all. I viewed one of the last rehearsals, and watched the performers create very real, very well developed characters and relationships. Each relationship brought a different aspect out of the character, and each situation gave the relationships that much more meaning.
Another member of the preview audience told the cast that he was moved by their performances, especially since he “knows those characters in real life,” not who they actually are, but the people they represent.
Insulate will be performed at St. Patrick’s Museum in Sydney June 17-19 at 7pm. Tickets are available at the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop and at the door for $10. It should be noted that the play does contain mature themes and is intended for an adult audience.