Last week I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the Neptune play, "The Glace Bay Miners' Museum" (missed my review of "Bingo!"? Check it out here).
I went into this play a tad 'blind' - I knew it was the story of a woman living in Cape Breton who falls in love with a man named Neil Currie. I knew that the story was also covered in the mid-90's movie, Margaret's Museum, but have never actually gotten around to seeing the movie or reading much about it. That is basically ALL I knew when I sat in my theatre seat to enjoy the production. In the end, I was actually glad that I went in with few expectations and no knowledge of what was to come - it certainly made the last part of the 2nd act a shocker for me!
(I don't want to give away too much of the plot, in case there are others out there like (past) me who are not aware of it, but suffice to say there is a dark twist that makes the title of the play all make sense!)
What I do want to impart, however, is how much I enjoyed this production. Although the story of Margaret and her family is rather grim overall, I found myself smiling and laughing a lot throughout. Not to mention the actors were all fabulous in their roles.
Francine Deschepper was a lovely mix of sweet and sassy as Margaret. I found her slight quirkiness, social awkwardness, big heart and sharp tongue to be very endearing. She was an interesting mix of childlike innocence and cynical adult, and she really portrayed the sense that she loved her home but at the same time wanted to break out of it and see and do more.
I could hardly take my eyes off Gil Garratt, who played Neil Currie, throughout the production. There was a ton of chemistry between him and Deschepper and their love story warmed my heart. And how many talents can one person have?! As Neil, he plays bagpipes and violin and sings beautifully (in gaelic, no less). He is somebody who is completely himself and doesn't care what anyone has to say about it. I would challenge anyone to not listen and be inspired by his passion when the fire of injustice ignites within him and he espouses his opinions.
Martha Irving infuses Margaret's mother with a great booming voice and a cantankerousness that belies the hardship she has endured in life. You get the sense that she carries a lot of anger, yes, but a lot of pain and regret behind it. And I think Grandpa made the audience laugh the most out of any character, and he did so without saying any words!
I loved the set - and I mean "set", singular (there is only one). I thought the use of a single set made sure that you focused directly on the characters and their nuances, no distractions. The space was used very creatively as well, with the haphazard wooden steps and platforms serving as the family's home, the wharf, a cliffside field and a diner.
The giant looming house silhouetted against the sky was gorgeous - the light coming through the windows, shining through sparkly fabric, gave the structure a dreamlike and slightly ominous feel at the same time. Considering the titular museum is housed inside this house, it makes sense that the set would impart this mix of feelings!
I am always impressed with Neptune's productions and I always leave with a feeling of warmth and a racing mind and this play was no exception! Visit the Glace Bay Miner's Museum today if you can!