Between Shifts latest digs deep 

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds

What: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: April 28-30

Tickets: $15-$18

The title may sound whimsical and flowery, but Squamish-based Between Shifts Theatre’s latest production is less about bright petals and more about the deep roots and dark emotional depths of mother/daughter relationships.

The company is following up last year’s staging of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress with Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds, about an embittered single mother raising two teenaged daughters in the mid-1960s.

"It’s so beautifully written. It says everything it needs to say in two very short acts," says Between Shifts’ Kathryn Daniels. "It’s like looking in the window of this home, of this very dysfunctional family."

In taking on the difficult role of Beatrice Hunsdorfer, Daniels portrays a woman who allows her anger at being abandoned by her husband to adversely affect her life with her two daughters, headstrong Ruth, played by Camille Clarke, and dreamchaser Tillie, played by Megan Fletcher. It’s Tillie’s innovative science fair project, pursued with vigour in spite of turmoil on the home front, which lends its name to the title.

Rounding out the cast is Kristin Hayden as Janice, a school chum, Maureen Gilmour as Nanny, a vacant-eyed invalid boarding at the house of Hunsdorfer, and Max the Bunny as Tillie’s cherished pet.

"The play represents challenges on many levels," says director Judi Price. "You have a script with a rabbit, three teens, a forty-something mother and a boarder named ‘Nanny’ who represents a walking corpse.

"I now know why people say ‘never work with animals.’ I think poor Megan Fletcher must have been bitten several times by Max the Bunny, but she persevered. I think now they’re on cuddling terms."

The lapines and the teens were not the only ones who gelled throughout the rehearsal process. Daniels raves about the cohesiveness between the players despite their age differences. The emotional depths required of the cast LED them to trust each other, something Price said she made an effort to establish at the production’s core.

In a departure from self-directing this year, Between Shifts hired Price, an accomplished actor and director from the Lower Mainland, to run the show. The strength of the material alone sold the position to many potential applicants, she adds.

Daniels admits the troupe had fun with the kitschy music and fashions of the period, but found the issues at the play’s core were just as relevant today.

"The characters themselves are timeless," agrees Price, "a story about a young girl, full of hope, happy to be alive amid turmoil in the world, and full of love for an embittered mother and a sister who lashes out at everybody around her.

"In spite of it all, we do love."

The production is coming to Whistler well seasoned after it’s opening run in Squamish in early April. Later in May, Between Shifts will present the play at the North Shore Theatre Festival.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds presents a three show run at MY Place April 28-30 as part of the MY Place/Whistler Arts Council 2003/04 Performance Series. All shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors.

For more information call 604-935-8410 or go to www.whistlermillenniumpl.com.

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