WHITE ROCK â€” Reaching the centennial of the First World War, White Rock-based theatre and arts company Peninsula Productions is producing Maryâ€™s Wedding, an emotional and historic drama centred on WWI.
The play, which flickers between 1914 and 1920 in dream sequences, tells the story of lovers Mary and Charlie. Scenes flash â€œfrom the prairies to the trenchesâ€ in an emotional re-telling of war and love.
The production stars young actors Julia Siedlanowska and Harrison MacDonald as Mary and Charlie, lovers who meet just before Charlie was enlisted to WWI.
â€œWhen I first read the play, I was just sobbing,â€ Siedlanowska told the Now.
â€œI was just completely drawn to it. Itâ€™s a love story thatâ€™s very relatable, what really gets me in it is Maryâ€™s regret and I find that itâ€™s really relatable. I just had a feeling when I read it that I wanted to be in it.â€
For the monumental event, the company has partnered with local historian Bob Mackay, whose father fought in the significant war and has penned a novel on the events.
Though a work of fiction the play, by Canadian playwright Steven Masicotte, strikes many real and accurate chords, including a common real-life character, Sargeant Flowerdew, from Mackayâ€™s novel Soldier of the Horse.
â€œSergeant Flowerdew, who actually existed and fought in the First World War, was part of Lord Strathconaâ€™s C squadron, and thatâ€™s how we have a connection with Bob,â€ said Peninsula Productionsâ€™ director Wendy Bollard. â€œBobâ€™s father fought in the First World War alongside Flowerdewâ€¦ so weâ€™re incredibly fortunate to have (him) onboard to help us and to explain the stories.â€
Mackay said the script does an incredible job of being accurate, through what heâ€™s learned from his father.
â€œThere are all kinds of things in the play that make me think Steven Massicotte did a lot of research and when he wrote the play, he really understood the background very well,â€ the historian said.
The playâ€™s stars agree with director Bollard, who said that having a historian to help with the context is advantageous.
â€œItâ€™s good to get second-hand information from memories. Itâ€™s not just reading on Wikipedia or studying it coldly,â€ Siedlanowska said. â€œYou can add different motivations through peopleâ€™s recollections.â€
Her co-star, McDonald, echoed the semtiment.
â€œItâ€™s easy to understand the human aspects and the emotions, but to be well-versed in the socio-political aspects and the mentalities and notions of the day, thatâ€™s a whole different language to immerse yourself in,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s why Bobâ€™s here and thatâ€™s what weâ€™re learning from him.â€
The production runs nightly from Nov. 12 to 15 at White Rock Elementaryâ€™s Black Box Theatre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Peninsulaproductions.org. A Nov. 11 show at 2 p.m. will be free for veterans and their families, and by donation for the general public.