Gulf Islands Driftwood
Voice of the Southern Gulf Islands

Community Theatre presents double-bill comedy

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Salt Spring Community Theatre is tapping into some homegrown material for its fall offering, with two one-act comedies by local playwrights sharing the stage in one entertaining program.

Salt Spring Blues, written and directed by Sid Filkow, is a meditation on real estate, divorce and the intersection of the two in island life. Scott Merrick gets writer/director credits for Mother’s Nature (telephone conversations with my mother), based on a series of memorable events with a remarkable real-life character. The double bill opens its two-weekend run Friday, Nov. 10 at Mahon Hall.

“I think in both plays people are going to recognize themselves or others quite easily,” Merrick said.

“In some ways they’re both contemporary, but the themes are pretty universal and constant,” Filkow added.

The combo marks the first time in many years that Salt Spring writers have been on the Community Theatre program. Filkow’s first experience with the stage actually came through Community Theatre’s nascent group, just after he moved to the island in 1981. A small part in Play it Again, Sam inspired him to write and perform more, but most of his work since then has been self-produced or done in partnership with the late Arvid Chalmers.

Filkow first produced Salt Spring Blues at ArtSpring some 10 to 12 years ago, and it made a splash during SSCT’s annual script-reading exercise for the year ahead. The play centres on the idea of “communication and a lack thereof,” and examines the inability of couples to communicate effectively over time.

While in many ways the situations are universal, some aspects the characters must deal with are unique to Salt Spring. Their problems may be familiar to audiences who saw another play co-written by Filkow, Paradise Lots.

“It’s some adventures of people moving to and away from Salt Spring, and their hopes, dreams, expectations and fantasies,” Filkow said. “It’s an evening of laughs, but also some touching bits. There are some very serious moments happening to these people.”

While all the characters and situations are “strictly fictional,” Salt Spring Blues is steeped in familiar personality types — so much so that viewers may think Filkow is writing about them.

“If anyone sees themselves up there, all I can say is ‘If the shoe fits, wear it,’” Filkow joked.

Merrick’s 25-minute piece stems from a series of actual phone conversations with his mother.

The conversations reproduced on stage take place at different times and are snapshots of a relationship. The audience gets to know the characters through their different conversations, rather than following a developing situation. The pastiche nature of the script may have made it more challenging for the actors, but Merrick said Daniel Squizzato and Lynne Terry have fully embraced the material and the characters.

“The two people playing me and my mom are wonderful. They make me laugh — and I wrote the lines,” Merrick said.

Community Theatre’s fall performance dates are Nov. 10 and 11 and then Nov. 16 to 18 at 7:30 p.m., plus one 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 12. There is a special ticket price for opening night.

In addition to Squizzato and Terry, the program features Dave French, Fiona Walls, Rosita Larrain, Saint McColl, Vera Algoet and Amy Haysom.

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