Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tempting Providence

This week I saw a most surprising play. "Tempting Providence" by Robert Chafe. What is surprising is that Mr. Chafe, who is about my age, grew up in the Goulds and has written the story of Myra Bennett, an English nurse who arrived in Daniel's Harbour on the Great Northern Peninsula in 1921. Originally only planning a two year stay, she eventually married, had children and stayed the rest of her life. Her story was one of pulled teeth, set limbs, birthing children and saving lives. This is not the Robert Chafe I knew (I guess it's a common enough name for more than one Robert Chafe to have grown up in the Goulds) but I know at least another Myra Bennett.

I'm probably not the only person who ever thought that the telling of his parents' life story might make for interesting theatre, yet I feel oddly singular in watching someone else telling it. I'm even more surprised that this was the first I'd heard of this play. The video clip above is, like most video clips of live theatre, inadequate and makes the acting seem, well, "stagey" but the show itself is really pretty moving, inventive and somehow, magically draws you in to a world 80 years ago where frozen harbours and overheated kitchens are populated by a generation of people skirting hardship and poverty with humour and grace.

The play only runs until Sunday at The Factory Theatre, but if you have chance to see it somewhere - Cowhead perhaps, then do. You won't forget it.


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