A naturalistic 1930s mystery thriller presented by Douglas College
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
Director Thrasso “Thrasbro” Petras, who brought The Very Ecstasy of Love and Jehanne of the Witches to the Laura C. Muir Theatre here at Douglas College last year, is getting ready to show off his latest project, Dangerous Corner by J.B. Priestley from November 2 to 10 in the Studio Theatre. Expect to see a different style from what Petras has done with his previous work, as Dangerous Corner focuses more on the subtleties within the characters throughout the play.
“It’s totally different because all of these layers [within the characters] are slowly revealed, and like [The Very Ecstasy of Love] or Twelfth Night, like a lot of the plays that I’ve done here [in the past] are big and everyone’s wearing their heart on their sleeve and you just know what’s going on,” says Petras. “[Dangerous Corner] is all about people that are living in a world like 1930s England that’s essentially pretty repressed and you behaved according to certain social norms and you did not deviate from those social norms and if you did you paid a heavy, heavy price.”
Unlike Petras’ previous several plays which were brought to life in the Muir theatre, Dangerous Corner is, again, being put on in the Studio theatre which serves as a close-up, intimate space for the audience to get completely engaged within.
“The Studio [theatre] is actually a really good place [for this play] because it’s seemingly a parlour room drama, like an English Agatha Christie-esque parlour room drama but the layers are so much deeper in terms of the relationships that these characters are having, and I think there does need to be a feel of intimacy and also a little bit [of a feeling] that something is off. We’re trying to set it up so that you get the feeling right away that something is a bit skewed, something is a bit wrong.”
This naturalistic 1930s mystery thriller takes on the role of an evolving crime drama that carries the audience through a character driven, accent-filled, extravagant adventure that will surely leave you waiting to find out what’s next.
“It feels like this is an evolving crime that you slowly start to realize [what] is going on and every time there’s a revelation [you’re taking a new picture of the situation],” says Petras. “We’re having a lot of fun working with accents which I love to do. I just love it because it informs the character so much and the accents enhance the character you build around. The accent [acts] as a foundation sometimes of character.”
One of the most difficult parts of the process is choosing the right play to include a handful of students and genders to fit the roles of the specific characters. Finding that perfect combination to serve the actors/students, as well as the purpose of the play, can be a strenuous task.
“It’s a very bizarre thing that never happens anywhere else where you try and find a play to suit seven, eight, nine diverse people. Really when you try and do it, it’s kind of ludicrous and impossible. And every year there are these discussions with faculty about, ‘what about this play,’ and you never find a perfect play but then once you start rehearsal you try and find that mash. That mash to make it work for both parties.
“The thing I love about this play is even though it’s like another world, the relationships are very contemporary and I think that’s what unites us. Love, betrayal, grief, rage. All those things are the things that ultimately unite us as humans and so when you watch this and you have a secret in your life then you’re going to make a connection to somebody in this show.”
Second-year theatre students, Maddy Osborne-Wood and Alex Chan, as well as five other student actors, are in the midst of preparing for their fall production The two actors, who are entering their first of two productions in the theatre program this year, can’t wait to get the show on its feet.
“I play Freda Caplan, who is the host of the party that’s happening in [Dangerous Corner]. She’s married to Robert Caplan, whose brother recently died, which is kind of what the show is loosely based around. And you find out a few secrets about Freda throughout the show. How she kind of copes with the people around her,” says Osborne-Wood.
“My character’s name is Charles Trevor Stanton. He’s a self-made man who has been working at the White House publishing firm since the day he was 20 or so. He’s in his mid-40s now and he’s been working there and he’s worked his way to the top,” says Chan.
“He’s a very new money kind of character, so he’s playing a part the best he can because he knows that if he screws up he’s a social pariah and there’s no safety net like there would be for someone who grew up in wealth,” says Chan.
“Freda is a very internal person, she’s in her head a lot. She’s going through a lot of different thoughts, struggles, and battles with herself.
“I believe I can play internal characters very well and have that internal struggle and still be able to show it during performances,” says Osborne-Wood.
The Dangerous Corner production is the first of two plays coming out this fall here at Douglas, the second being Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway and directed by Deborah “Debz” Neville, which runs from November 6 to 17 in the Laura C. Muir Theatre.