By Peter Mazzucco
Produced by Anne Harper and directed by Valary Cook, ‘Late Company’ is a story about acceptance, blame, forgiveness and regret as well as the consequences of bullying. Each character embarks on a journey of self-discovery as well as learning about those around them. The play was an important one for me as it allowed me to seek out common character threads within the characters as well as share in the tragic event which joined them together originally.
‘Late Company’ showed me how things aren’t always what they seem to be. It’s an important life lesson piece in trying to understand how we may form judgements and conclusions without having all the information required for a proper examination of the events that happened
‘Late Company’ begins with the light rising on the Shaun-Hastings family in their dining room awaiting their guests, the Dermots. As the Shaun-Hastings family waits, they discuss the merits of having dinner with the family of the boy who was involved in the bullying of their son, Joel, who had committed suicide as a result of it. When the Dermots finally arrive, niceties are exchanged and apologies and explanations are given.
Over the course of dinner, I watched intently how small talk of common interests and similarities of the families soon led to complex responses to the tragedy of suicide. Differences over many issues including career versus family, the role of wives and how children should be raised all began to focus on blame, regret, anger and hurt.
To deal with such themes as blame, forgiveness, regret and acceptance requires a complex understanding of human behaviour and how people utilize their emotions in moving past a tragedy like suicide. Director Valary Cook would, I’m sure, have had many discussions with the cast in the creation of realistic and believable people. For the most part, Ms. Cook’s vision threaded through the production.
As Deborah Shaun-Hastings, Lydia Kiselyk (in a classy performance) is not so vocal about niceties and pleasantries exchanged as a result of the tragedy that ensued. Her choice of ominous sounding classical music underscoring the dinner speaks volumes in how she feels about the situation. Rob Candy plays Michael Shaun-Hastings with a stoic dignity and depth of character understanding that it’s hard to believe he stepped into the role just before opening night.
The introduction of Tamara Dermot (Andrea Lyons), Bill Dermot (Andrew Horbatuik) and their son Curtis (Dylan Mills-Capote) offered an interest contrast to their hosts in their views and appearances. Mr. Horbatiuk plays the man’s man, Bill, with great aplomb. Bill is a dislikable person who has a belief in corporal punishment and an attitude of ‘boys will by boys’ take on things which becomes most hurtful to the Hastings. Ms. Lyons displays a deep level of emotion as the dinner progresses through periods of recrimination and finally understanding. The highlight of the evening for me was the young Mr. Mills-Capote who played the adolescent Curtis with such honesty that he won me over completely.
Tickets at villageplayers.net or call 416-767-7702. The theatre is located 2190E Bloor Street West (east of Runnymede Station). The production runs to March 23.