“The best Queensland play, and the best Queensland production, in years” – The Australian
The Drowning Bride, like A Beautiful Life, came to us through a friendship. This time, the story which inspired it was told to us by Elise Parups, a friend of Latvian descent, who described a life-changing journey to the US during which she attempted to unravel a dark mystery from her family’s past. She visited the black sheep, her paternal grandfather, to persuade him to tell her why he’d deserted her beloved grandmother, recently deceased, after World War II. Elise never heard the full story, and The Drowning Bride became a play of conjecture about what she might have heard had the old man opened up to her.
Our friend and dramaturg Janis Balodis was a valued collaborator once again, bringing the boon of his own Latvian blood into the process. Set in Brisbane, Pittsburgh, and 1940’s Latvia, the play jumped time and place to conjoin two stories and expose secrets of history and hearts. Elise’s own father, who’d been a child witness to wartime events in Latvia, was moved by the verisimilitude of the scenes in the past, and the family were united in their appreciation of the play.
Ellen, Elise’s literary doppelganger, was released by her contact with grandfather, Valdis, and able to move on from her grief at the loss of Sarmitte, her indomitable, heroic grandmother. The play, a four-hander, explored the lives of apparently ordinary people transformed by the extraordinary demands of war and enemy occupation of their homeland, the deals and compromises they were forced to make, and the sometimes tortuous ways the characters found to endure their survival.
Produced by La Boite Theatre Company for its 2005 Subscription season, in association with Matrix, with development funds from Arts Queensland.
Dates: 2nd-18th June, 2005
Venue: La Boite Theatre
Writers: Helen Howard and Michael Futcher
Director: Michael Futcher
Designer: Bill Haycock
Lighting Designer: David Walters
Composer: Phil Slade
Dramaturg: Janis Balodis
Artistic Advisor: Elise Parups
Fight Director: Nigel Poulton
Additional Vocals: The Three Helens
Stage Manager: Kylie Degen
ASM: Karlan Johns
PHOTOGRAPHER: Justine Walpole
Helen Cassidy: Zenta/Irma
Helen Christinson: Ellen/Sarmitte
Steven Grives: Valdis
Hayden Spencer: Matt/Brandt
Michael Futcher and Helen Howard are among the great originators of quality theatre in this country…a stunning, darkly humorous, explicit and ultimately life-affirming piece of theatre that addresses human issues on a personal and global scale. A play of enormous depth, sensitivity, topicality, poignancy and power” – The Brisbane News
…powerful and deeply moving… In Howard and Futcher’s masterly script, moral compromise and complexity are realized with compelling theatrical power….” – The Australian
… guaranteed to appeal to a wide cross-section of the populace… a beautiful story…go and see it if you possibly can… Well-written, well-acted and well-directed…simply an excellent night of theatre. Five stars” – ABC Brisbane
Epic, evocative and emotionally charged…great commendations go to Howard and Futcher for their deft treatment of a complex premise.” – Time Off Magazine
Love, sacrifice, honour, sex, shame – all are interlaced in the story that unfolds in Helen Howard and Michael Futcher’s startling play…compelling theatre, thought-provoking and exciting” – M/C Reviews, Brisbane
A gripping story…magic happens.”
– Stage Diary, Brisbane
– The Courier Mail
An extraordinarily powerful play”
– John McCallum, Australian Playwriting in the 20th Century