Having Hope at Home
The Cove Journal (review)
by JoDee Samuelson
Down at the Cove for a swim, tide coming in, warm layer on top, no jellyfish, sun dancing cheerfully on sparkling waves, I once again count my blessings. Back on land, I remark casually to a young girl, “So what do you think of heaven?” She stares at me blankly. “What I mean is,” I continue, “this place, this day—don’t you think it’s heaven?” Her father, coming along heavily laden with beach items, replies on his daughter’s behalf. “Oh no, heaven will be much better than this!”
I bid the little family good-bye and head home. The air is scented by sweet clover and wild roses, the ditches are crowded with vetch and daisies in full bloom, and I can’t help thinking, “All the same, poor old God will have a hard time topping this.”
This sense of perfection carries into the evening as my friends and I join the audience filing into Victoria Playhouse for the production Having Hope at Home. It’s a mostly older crowd of men in polo shirts, and short-haired women in pastel blouses and jackets. Everyone is smiling, and the smiles continue all night long, for Having Hope is joyful from start to finish.
The play starts with a bang, or actually a shriek, as pregnant Carolyn (Breanna Moore) goes into labor. The crowd roars as Grandpa (Jack Wynters) cuts carrots for supper by snipping them with his teeth, pompous doctor (Mark Stevenson) jumps on a chair to lecture the family on the dangers of home birth, peace-making mother in three-piece fitted suit (Cathy Grant) “makes a scene,” and midwife (Charlene Reno) admits to having been a hippie. At the end, when new father Michel (Mark Fraser) falls asleep on the couch with newborn baby girl on his chest, the play is wrapped up, as it were, in a pretty pink bow. Congratulations to director Ron Irving and crew.
Victoria Playhouse is the dream child of local residents who in the early 1980’s converted the old Victoria Hall into a theatre. Founding artistic director was Erskine Smith, whose sudden passing in June left Victoria, and indeed the whole Island, reeling with shock. But wait, Erskine has not left the building! More than one person observed that Jack Wynter’s portrayal of Grandpa was uncannily Erskine-ish. It was somehow comforting to realize that the spirit of Erskine Smith lives on.
Of course, going to the theatre in Victoria is not just about seeing a play. It encompasses the whole village experience. In this small community, people still stroll the streets on a summer’s evening for the simple pleasure of admiring the majestic trees, the well-kept heritage homes, and the waves lapping at the shore. Packs of children bike furiously down the road, people come out of the chocolate shop with smudges on their cheeks, conversations strike up between perfect strangers, and the cares of the outside world fade into the distance.
It’s almost like, well, like heaven.