by Diva Trista Russell
Falling: A Wake is the last production of the Blyth Festival’s 2013 season. Written by Gary Kirkham and directed by Peter Smith, the play follows retired couple Elsie (played by Catherine Fitch) and Harold (played by Tony Munch) as they discover the body of a young man on the front yard of their farm one autumn night. I had heard that this play was going to be quite comedic, but I was also surprised at how emotional it was as well. This play is actually inspired by the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy over Lockerbie in Scotland. Kirkham’s friend was on that very plane, and he wrote this play many years later.
Elsie and Harold are awakened one night by the sounds of banging and crashing, and come to realize that a plane crash occurred. Surrounded by luggage and debris, they discover the lifeless body of a 20 year-old man, sitting in a plane seat. Elsie, who loves to talk, decides to keep the young man company until the authorities arrive. Much to her husband’s dismay, she carries on a conversation with the victim, which is actually quite comedic.
Aside from the comedy, the discovery of the body reminds Harold and Elsie of their unresolved loss of their son, and is symbolic of the profound impact of grief. The couple’s lack of closure about their son and their resolve to move on was a reminder to me that we’ve all experienced loss in our lives in some way, and the healing power of letting go. I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that the title is “Falling: A Wake” not “Falling: Awake” as I had thought, which is quite fitting considering Elsie’s determination at staying by the side of the young man’s body.
Held in the intimate Phillips Studio, there was no stage set when I arrived. The props were very minimal. I learned that Elsie and Harold are a couple in real life too, which is not surprising considering the great chemistry and quick comebacks they have on set.
Falling: A Wake plays until Saturday, September 7th, including afternoon and evening performances. The Phillips Studio is located at 209 Dinsley Street in Blyth.
For tickets, call 1-877-862-5984 or visit www.blythfestival.com.