Blood Relations lets audience be the judge in the Lizzie Borden ax murders

Miss Lizzie (Roz Roome, left) talks to the actress (Samantha Currie) during Neighbourhood Player’s crime-drama Blood Relations at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in Bay Film Studios, Maple Bay. - Peter W. Rusland
Miss Lizzie (Roz Roome, left) talks to the actress (Samantha Currie) during Neighbourhood Player’s crime-drama Blood Relations at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in Bay Film Studios, Maple Bay.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Evil lurking in the hearts of common folks will be dramatically examined in the world premier of a re-vamped Blood Relations starting next week.

Director Mike Moroz uses the famously strange case of American ax murder Lizzie Borden to christen Cowichan’s fledgling Neighbourhood Players at the Neighbourhood Playhouse, located inside Maple Bay’s Bay Studios.

“It’s trial by theatre,” he said of seven seasoned actors asking viewers to judge if unlikely Lizzie killed her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The 1892 case went viral in the U.S. press. Despite Borden’s acquittal, no one else was charged, and speculation about the killer continues still.

Relations is based on Canuck playwright Sharon Pollock’s rewritten script.

It’s also the basis of Moroz’s master’s thesis through Central Washington University.

The veteran director, and Cow High’s drama teacher, explained how he’s using community theatre as his vehicle driven by professional actors, such as Samantha Currie (Miss Lizzie, and ‘the actress’), and Roz Roome (Miss Lizzie, Bridget the maid).

“I get out on the (stage-project) edge quite often, but I don’t know if I’d do this play with high school kids,” he said of two-hour Relations.

And it’s immaterial to Moroz if his two-hour show involves an American or a Canadian murder case.

“Good stories aren’t American or Canadian; they’re just good stories, and Pollock took a great premise and a great lens to look at this story through.”

Relations retells Borden’s story using historic accuracy hinged on Roome and Currie’s characters.

Curries ‘actress’ visits Borden’s home a decade after Roome’s Borden was acquitted of the killing.

Enter curiosity.

The actress asks Borden if she really killed her relatives.

“Lizzie says ‘I’m not going to tell you, but we can play a game and you can be me,’” Moroz explained of details gradually recounted by Borden to the actress.

“The actress is less interested in whodunit than whydunit,” Moroz said.

“There are five different theories about who did it, and why,” Currie said.

“This show sets it up nicely about which theory you agree with.

“People may have preconceived notions about who Lizzie Borden was, and maybe this show will change their mind.”

Roome was fascinated about the famous case so many know so little about.

“It’s almost as of it just went away,” she said of finding the real murderer.

“The challenge is keeping the time frame separate. For instance, Bridget’s in the moment but in the past.

“When I’m Lizzie, the murder is 10 years past, so she’s had time to process things.”

Pollock wants viewers to process clues too.

“She wants people to examine under what circumstances they’d be compelled to act in a certain way,” said Moroz.

“Forces of society are so enormous that they push us into doing things we wouldn’t normally conceive of.

“Pollock’s not solving the mystery, but asking us how we’d respond to this kind of pressure.”


Your ticket

What: Blood Relations

When: Nov. 21-24, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Neighbourhood Playhouse, Bay Film Studios, 6759 Considine Ave., Maple Bay

Tickets: $18, $15 students and seniors; Nov. 21 by donation. Visit the News Leader Pictorial, or 275469

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