Belfty Theatre in Victoria, British Columbia, opens its mainstage theatre Oct. 24 with Crackpot, Rachel Wyatt's drama based on the novel by Adele Wiseman.
Set in Winnipeg's immigrant Jewish community, 1930-50, Crackpot tells of Hoda, conceived in a graveyard by a blind father and a hunchback mother. A lonely woman who becomes a prostitute to support her family, Hoda nonetheless survives and eventually triumphs -- while showing those around her how to love unconditionally.
Director Allen MacInnes' previous credits at Belfry include Shirley Valentine and If We Are Women. Maralyn Ryan plays Hoda, with Mariam Bernstein, Doreen Brownstone, Nancy Drake, Stan Lesk, Brian Linds, Harry Nelken, Peter Oldring, and Daryl Shuttleworth filling out the cast. Set and costume designs are by Yvonne Sauriol; lighting is by Scott Henderson.
On Saturday Oct. 28 at 2pm (Crackpot starts at 4), author Rachel Wyatt will read from her latest collection of short stories, "The Day Marlene Dietrich Died."
Reached in Canada, author Rachel Wyatt told Playbill On-Line she was quite taken with the current Crackpot staging. "It's much less cluttered and clustered with things," she noted. "Allen MacInness made it much more contained and simple. It's a wooden set with four telegraph poles, a rail, a counter. The simplicity makes the drama stand out." Wyatt credited Adele Wiseman's book for inspiring her to write a play. "Adele died four years ago," Wyatt remembers, "we were great friends."
Asked about other projects on her plate now that Crackpot has opened, Wyatt reminded me that her short story book was just released last week. "In an hour," she also noted, "I'm meeting with Allen to talk about an idea I vaguely have that might come to something. I'm also giving him a copy of my first play, Geometry. That was done at the Tarragon Theatre in 1982, and the critics didn't like it, but audiences really responded to it."
According to press representative Mark Dusseault, Belfry Artistic Director Glynis Leyshon chose Crackpot to open the season for a number of reasons. Foremost, the theatre dedicates itself to producing "new Canadian plays and new Canadian writers" -- and it helps that Wyatt actually lives in Victoria. Also, Leyshon likes to begin the season with something big and special, and Crackpot's 9-person cast is actually rather large for the Belfry.
For tickets and information on Crackpot, which runs to Nov. 10, call (604) 385-6835.
-- By David Lefkowitz