Make the Drive to Marion Bridge

L to R: Beatrice Zeilinger, Lynda Boyd and Nicola Cavendish
photo: David Cooper

Kay Meek Arts Centre in West Vancouver is staging Daniel MacIvor’s Marion Bridge, in celebration of its 20th Anniversary.

The premise of Marion Bridge is fairly simple; a trio of sisters gather at the family home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to care for their dying mother, and sort through a lifetime of family differences and drama. What keeps the play from falling into a movie-of-the-week cliche, are the three fully realized performances by three respected actresses.  The venerable Nicola Cavendish, in her final stage performance, is Theresa – a farming nun, who is keeping up her holy facade despite facing a crisis of faith. Gemini award winning actress Lynda Boyd,  plays Agnes – a long-struggling Toronto based actress who “enjoys a drink” and Beatrice Zeilinger as Louise, the complex but ‘strange’ sister.

Almost everyone should be able to relate to the complexities of the family dynamic, especially with three such different siblings trying to sort out decades of history. In Marion Bridge, the sisters’ mother (dying, off-stage) is the catalyst for them to examine their lives, the mistakes of the past, and look for ways to grow into their futures. While there is a simple evocative set, designed by Tiko Kerr, it’s almost unnecessary,  these three leading ladies could perform on a blank stage with three chairs and the audience would still be entranced by their turns under Roy Surrette’s direction.

photo: David Cooper

Each of the characters has a monologue to flesh out their character, while the actresses were a joy to watch, I did feel they broke up the momentum of the play slightly. The transitions between scenes felt a bit abrupt, almost like the play was written with TV commercials in mind.  Cape Breton inspired music played and lights dimmed, leading to some awkward claps from the audience as they didn’t know if they were at the end of an act or the play itself.  Otherwise, Marion Bridge is an engaging, well-acted play that won’t disappoint.

Just as the characters take a drive to Marion Bridge in the play, this production is well worth the drive to West Vancouver and the Kay Meek Arts Centre.  If that’s not reason enough, the opportunity to witness stage-legend Nicola Cavendish’s final theatre performance before retiring, is an added bonus. 

Marion Bridge plays at the Kay Meek Arts Centre, 1700 Mathers Ave, West Vancouver, until September 20th. Find tickets and details at kaymeek.com

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