Grizzly Valley Players Address Social Issue

After performing the play ?The Forgotten House? in Fort Saint John in May, the local drama group, the Grizzly Valley Players felt they should bring it to their own community.

With a rather dismal audience attendance, the two performances went on as an evening dessert theatre on Saturday, July 11th as well as a Matinee the following afternoon.

The production itself was written and directed locally and addressed a hard-hitting social issue. The play had won three technical nods at the Theatre BC regional competition, (Peace River Zone). The adjudicator at the regional level had remarked that the play itself was the bare bones of a really good play and therefore the length of the play was perhaps a bit short for the amount of information it tried to cover.

Nonetheless, the drama troupe has been evolving nicely this year, having taken workshops and begun more traditional skill training methods. A sign of even better performances to come, they hope to have a dedicated following and larger appeal from our local residents.

The premise of ?The Forgotten House? detailed the aftermath of a funeral for a man whose life with his family was mentally and physically abusive. The fact that he had turned it around, unbeknownst to his family was the catalyst for the emotions and unfinished business the characters were left to grapple with.

The jaded emotions of the only attending son to his father?s funeral, were mounting throughout the scenes until the predicted final moments on stage where John, as played by Timm Schofield, took his exit in a blast of fury.

The matriarch of the story, Aunt Mary, played by Jean Pawlucki, served as a no-nonsense, albeit abrasive character. Her quick tongue and admonishing pearls of wisdom were meant to help change the siblings, but many of them were received as irritants.

The one character that was meant to be the most salvageable was Megan, the seventeen-year-old Emo teen, played by Amanda Battenfelder. She did have her transition towards the end of the play, under the guidance of Aunt Mary.

All of the sisters, struggling with complacency and their own unrest, were the glue that held the family together over the years. Showing compassion and strength, their turmoil was relatable.

Catherine, as played by Sherry Berringer, was a tough as nails woman who put up with little from her emotional siblings, but showed a determination to lead the family. Emily, as played by Shelley Leach was the soft-spoken sibling who showed a gentleness that accompanied her urges to evoke harmony. Suzanne, as played by Doreen Younge was the youngest sister and the one most available to see the good in her father. Her experience with him in later years was one that confused her siblings and their disbelief caused turmoil as well.

Great compassion was shown by Joanna, housekeeper and companion to Aunt Mary, as played by Rose Colledge.

Two more secondary characters were also of great importance to the storyline. Still within the opening scenes of the play, the funeral director Laura Jacobs, as played by Deb Trim, was the spokesperson for the changes in the father that the family could not believe had become a kinder man. The surprise twist at the end of the play was the fact that the lawyer who had read the last wishes of the deceased to his family had a far greater role in their family then they ever imagined. Charissa Tonnesen played the role of legal beagle Vanessa Connelly.

It was unfortunate that more people didn?t stop by for this play. It is a far departure from the group?s usual campy and light-hearted fare and showed the work the group has done to try and begin a new chapter in their journey to evolve as a theatre company. The group has much planned for the fall and winter and hope that more people will come out to support them and enjoy their work.