john bullock, karen power, ciarán macgillivray & rebecca schneidereit
photo emily jewer
Rebecca Schneidereit’s play Silver Dagger, inspired by the Joan Baez song of the same name, is a strong work by a young playwright, still early in the process but with a lot of interesting elements and great potential for future incarnations, which is exactly what the Fringe Festival can be so beneficial for spearheading.
Set in 1971 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia Crystal Spencer’s life is flipped upside down when a beautiful Italian stranger, Isaac, arrives at the cafe where she works. Crystal has an interesting relationship with her mother, Ruby. Ruby has an interesting relationship with Crystal’s Italian professor, Arthur. Together they slowly unravel the mystery surrounding Isaac’s arrival and the lives of all four are irrevocably changed.
Much of this play hinges on a co-dependent and dysfunctional relationship between Crystal and her mother and I spent much of the play wondering why Crystal, a fourth year University student, allowed her mother to treat her like she was in Junior High School for this long without rebellion. Had she rebelled before and been beaten down or was there an immediate risk to her mother that prevented Crystal from upsetting the status quo? Schneidereit plays Crystal as defensive, mousy and carefully guarded with all emotions concerning positivity or happiness, which suggests potentially a darker past with her mother. Isaac liberates Crystal physically, but I would have liked to see him make a stronger impression on her repressed emotional life as well. Ciarán MacGillivray gives a nuanced and smooth performance as Isaac, who is the stuff of filmic heartthrobs, exotic knight in shining armour and down to earth in a way that suggests that he may, in fact, be trustworthy. I wanted more depth and darkness for Ruby and Arthur as twisted parental figures and intense and multifaceted individuals.
Silver Dagger would have benefited from having an outside eye to make sure that all the actors are visible for the varied sightlines at The Living Room and this also may have helped envision a set that required less frequent changes and blackouts.
In all, however, Silver Dagger shows strong promise for Rebecca Schneidereit as a playwright and I hope she keeps developing this play in the future.
Silver Dagger plays at The Living Room (2353 Agricola Street) as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival at the following times:
Monday, Sep 2 • 9:00
Saturday, Sep 7 • 8:15
Sunday, Sep 8 • 3:45
Tickets are $5.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm.