New island theatre company Bloom presents Crimes of the Heart

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By ROBERT MCTAVISH

SPECIAL TO THE DRIFTWOOD

Something new is being planted in Salt Spring’s local theatre landscape.

Bloom is a new company that will be presenting the renowned American play Crimes of the Heart by playwright Beth Henley, opening Thursday, July 21 at Lions Hall.

The group is an offshoot of Good Company Productions, familiar to Salt Spring audiences through successful shows such as 2019’s musical Time Piece. But while Good Company has now expanded to add recorded music production along with its large-scale plays, Bloom became the outlet for producers Suzanne Rouger and Metta Rose to keep their hands in their small theatre roots.

“It’s been a while,” said Rouger. “We had started another project when Covid came in and it was hard to get people involved, so I said, ‘let’s do this small thing!’”

This meant a cast of just six, with Rouger directing and Rose in a lead role. To get a reliable space during the pandemic they built a complete set inside a yurt on Rouger’s Salt Spring property. The tight rehearsals “allowed us more time on nuance,” notes Rouger, “where we could really get into what makes the scenes tick.”

That kitchen table intimacy is certain to carry over to the play’s cosy venue inside the Lions Hart Bradley Hall.

The play itself is a Pulitzer Prize winner (some might remember the film version with Sissy Spacek), and carries big themes of hardship, resentment and redemption. It follows the three Magrath sisters, Meg, Babe, and Lenny, who reunite at their Granddaddy’s small-town Mississippi home after Babe shoots her abusive husband. Dysfunctional, resentful and full of gossip and secrets, each sister is forced to face the consequences of the “Crimes of the Heart” she has committed.

Considered a tragicomedy, the play’s adult themes play out in what Rose calls “powerful female roles where each character has an element within their temperament that they have to face in order to carry on.”

Shyla-Rae Lloyd-Walters (Meg), who also appeared in Time Piece, and newcomer Kelsey Mech (Babe) join Rose (Lennie) as the sisters, with Dustin Bragg-Van Wyck, Annika Siemsen and Bryan Dubien rounding out the cast. Rose admits the actors were all drawn to the “juicy roles, and the material that allows the audience to both laugh and maybe even cry.”

The play’s southern-style examination of staying in one’s place and working to accept turmoil and misfortune is one that should resonate with a post-pandemic audience. Bloom plans to follow this inaugural production with further small-cast works, bringing in guest directors and more local actors with the goal of “always having a show in production.”

“Everyone has been starved for theatre,” Rose notes, “so when the opportunity came we saw it as blooming out of the darkness.”

Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley runs July 21 to 23, and July 28 to 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Advance tickets ($25 and cash only) are available at Twang & Pearl.

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