The Chilliwack Players Guild entry to the 2016 Theatre B.C. Fraser Valley Zone Theatre Festival is the modern classic The Gin Game, by D.L. Colburn.
This Pulitzer Prize winning dramatic comedy, originally starring theatre icons Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, uses a card game as a metaphor for life.
In addition to the theatre festival in Langley, The Guild will present three local performances for Chilliwack audiences.
The play centres around characters Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey, two elderly residents at a nursing home. The pair strike up an acquaintance, as neither seems to have any friends at the home.
As they get to know one another, Weller teaches Fonsia how to play Gin Rummy. As the games progress, Weller becomes increasingly frustrated as he is consistently beaten by Fonsia, who’s confidence continues to grow. Gradually, their conversations – much like their Gin games, become battles themselves.
Although the play is very dramatic, it’s interspersed with lovely moments and is sprinkled with tremendously funny interactions.
The roles of Weller and Fonsia will be played by Graham Archer and Katy Lowe, both of whom are veteran performers for The Players Guild, appearing in major roles in many productions.
Both performers are motivated by the challenge of playing characters older than themselves.
Lowe was drawn to the play and the role by the opportunity to work in an intimate two-hander (cast of two) production, and by the way the cards in the play almost become characters themselves.
Archer had seen the original production with Cronyn and Tandy on PBS and was impressed by the complexity of Weller’s character and the many angles through which it could be approached. He’s enjoying working through the creative process during rehearsals to find that perfect approach to his character.
The Gin Game is directed by Clint Hames, who has directed numerous hit productions for The Guild including Fiddler on The Roof and Noises Off. Having seen the original Gin Game production, Hames was impressed by the writing and moved by the way that it dealt with the issues facing the older members of society.
The Gin Game is certainly an excellent play for community theatre, and is sure to be entertaining for local audiences. It is produced by Laura Hames, with costume design by Sue Sroka, set design by Astrid Beugeling, and stage management by Dalle Proft.
The Gin Game will play May 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and May 21 at 2 p.m. in the Rotary Studio Theatre in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.
Tickets are $25 for adults, or $20 for students and seniors and can be purchased at 604-391-7469, chilliwackculturalcentre.ca or at the Centre Box Office (9201 Corbould St.) for tickets.
Note: The Gin Game contains coarse language that may be offensive to some audience members.