Discovering Dad’s Other Life
Almost a Love story Explores a Son’s Encounter with his Deceased Dad’s Lover
By Janine Eva Trotta
Is it possible to truly love two people at the same time? What does it mean to a son to find his father has a male lover?
Almost a love story is not the typical play that shows at Lunchbox Theatre but it is a script which, once Artistic Director Pamela Halstead read through it, was clearly in need of the opportunity to be brought to stage.
“When Louis [B. Houston, the play’s writer] asked me to read the script he prefaced the request with the caveat that he knew that Lunchbox would not be able to produce it,” she recalls. “I read it and loved it but wondered about whether it was a good fit or not. I decided to workshop it in our annual Stage One Festival and see where we could get the script to and how the audience would respond. The response was so positive that I decided to program the show in the regular season.”
This is the story of a young man who, following his Father’s death, realizes that a close friend of his father was in actuality a lover. He decides to confront this man, and in trying to reconcile the identity of the father he thought he knew, finds his own sexual identity must endure redefining.
“I think the most important thing this show does is provide a different perspective,” Halstead says. “And the questions of sexual identity and choices that we make around how we conduct ourselves as sexual creatures; and the nature of relationships and honesty or betrayal.”
Halstead recounts a Stage One reading last June, for which an older patron had sat in by accident. That older woman came to her and said, though she had never been comfortable with homosexuality, she liked the play and felt that the two men had genuinely cared about one another.
“If the play can open up any discussion around human relationships it will have been successful,” Halstead says.
The play will have full opportunity to inspire just that type of dialogue and more. Almost a Love Story is part of Lunchbox Theatre’s Education Comes Alive Program, which is targeted to schools in the region.
“There is a study guide available and post-show talk backs scheduled for school groups that attend,” Halstead says. “In the play Daniel (the son) also wants to be an actor and is working on his Shakespearean monologues for auditioning for University, and Callum (the lover) assist him with that. This literary connection is also an excellent tool to connect the play to the student’s curriculum.”
This run of Almost of Love Story will be the play’s first professional showcase to the public, though amateur actors performed an earlier draft as part of a community theatre festival in which it received award.
The play will be performed Monday to Saturday at 12:10pm with “Happy Hour” performances Fridays at 6:10pm and “Date Night showings Saturdays at 7:30pm, from April 29 to May 18, 2013.
“We have not started rehearsals yet but I am looking very much forward to working on this beautiful and challenging script with such an amazing group of actors.” Halstead said at the time of writing, noticing that the biggest challenge of directing such a play is its non-linear timeline.
“The play jumps in seconds from the present to the past and between characters and through memory,” she says. “So keeping not only the actors but the audience clear about where we are in the non-linear storytelling and to do it in a way that flows is the challenge.”
The show promises a well-seasoned cast known to Calgary theatergoers.
Christopher Hunt, who plays David, the father living a dual life, is touted “one of the finest actors in the city having graced every stage in town” by Halstead, and is a past recipient of numerous Betty Mitchell awards for his performances.
Frank Zotter, based out of Edmonton, plays Callum, David’s lover. Lindsay Burns plays Ellie David’s unaware wife, who upon discovering the truth about her husband allows her maternal instinct to protect her son overpower her own feelings of hurt and betrayal.
David the son, is played by recent Mount Royal graduate Joe Perry, while Callum’s neighbor and confidant, Henry, is played by former Artistic Director of Shadow Productions, Hal Kerbes.
Halstead has worked across the country as a director, spending the last ten years working primarily on new play development both at Lunchbox Theatre and Ship’s Company Theatre in Nova Scotia.
“ …both companies with long historic of premiering new Canadian plays,” she says. She was familiar with Almost a Love Story’s writer Louis B. Hobson as, in addition to writing plays, critiquing them for the Calgary Sun.
“I am thrilled to be working on the world premier of Almost a Love Story,” Halstead says.