I’ll Be Back Before Midnight'
Produced by Janice Donnelly and Directed by Mark Salonius
AJAX COMMUNITY THEATRE Ajax’s St. Francis Centre
November 17-26, 2016
Even as we prepare for the Christmas season, we humans for some reason still always like a good scare and to have a good laugh after having that scare. This is an oddity about our nature, but it is something that all of us have enjoyed either when we were young, invincible and sometimes foolish or something that we might still like to do. The challenge for any local community theatre production in presenting a good thriller live on stage is, what I call, ‘the hokey factor’. Can a community theatre prepare a good scare, make us laugh as a release while build again for the next scare that is going to take place without it seeming all contrived?
Canadian Peter Colley’s 'I’ll Be Back Before Midnight' has become a staple of local community theatre groups that has entertained audiences for years. It’s a tough one to perform as actor readiness, special effects and sound cues have to hit the mark immediately if the scare factor is to work. Despite a few technical glitches on this opening night performance, this cast and crew at the intimate venue of Ajax’s St. Francis Centre does their best to provide laughs, screams, bumps and chills down the spine.
After suffering a nervous breakdown, the fragile Jan (Sarah-Liis Salonius) is in need of rest. She and her archaeologist husband, Greg (Paul Love) rent an old farmhouse haunted by the ghost of a murder victim, or so says their quirky landlord, George (Todd Bowles). When Greg’s sister, Laura (Sharon Berman), arrives at the farmhouse, things begin to deteriorate further. Jan blames Laura’s relationship with her brother as one of the factors to incite problems in their marriage. A series of unexplained events in the farmhouse lead Jan to believe whether she is suffering another relapse OR is something more afoot within the farmhouse?
So much work has gone on behind the scenes of any community theatre production, and these selfless individuals must also be acknowledged for their contribution. Dave Edwards’ set design fills the entire stage to create the rustic look of a farmhouse right down to the wood burning stove. The dark rich colours on the walls and the curtains that sway in the breeze create that feeling of encroaching entrapment from which Jan wishes to escape. There was a nice selection of orchestral music that played before the performance began and during the intermission that creates an ominous atmosphere. For the most part lighting and sound worked but, as performances continue, I’m positive these cues will be picked up quicker. Modern day costumes remind the audiences that, even though this story was written in the early 1980s, this story could have taken place yesterday.
I’ll Be Back Before Midnight continues at the St. Francis Centre, 78 Church Street, South in Ajax, November 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at 8 pm. There is a matinee performance at 2 pm only on Saturday November 20. Tickets may be purchased at the door before performance or contact (289) 892-4132. For further information, visit their site.