Beautiful is how one woman described the Studio Theatre’s production of The Lodge after Wednesday evening’s show.
She plans to see the play again to enjoy all the subtle nuances of life that reverberate throughout the production.
Written by the late Gwen Pharis Ringwood and directed by her daughter Sophia Schneider, The Lodge was written in the 1970s but could easily reflect life in the Cariboo Chilcotin as it continues today.
Wrapped around the reunion of a family at a remote Chilcotin Lodge the play explores interpersonal and inter-cultural relationships including sibling rivalry, struggles of young love, the unbridled quest for development and creature comforts, more subtle forms of racism, land use and land claims, aging with independence, the burden of possessions and so much more.
As Schneider says The Lodge will stimulate thought, touch hearts and tickle funny bones.
“I really enjoy playing Jasmine,” says Sharon Hoffman, who plays the artist mother and grandmother around whom controversy swirls throughout the play.
“She is a fun person, quite the free spirit who marches to her own drummer,” Hoffman says.
While Jasmine relates very well to her adult grandchildren, Hoffman says Jasmine’s relationship with her own two daughters is a little strained.
Without giving too much of the plot away for people who haven’t seen the production yet, Hoffman says, “Jasmine is a true environmentalist, a trail blazer, ahead of her time.”
Schneider said her mother revised The Lodge several times as she worked to create a play in the style of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov with new information developing with the entrances and exits of the characters.
Vancouver Little Theatre produced the first version of The Lodge in 1976.
The Studio Theatre production is a later version of the play published in The Collected Plays of Gwen Pharis Ringwood in 1982 and is being staged for the first time by the Studio Theatre.
The play’s fictional wilderness lodge was modelled on the beautiful Chilcotin Lodge at Riske Creek.
There is also a natural soda spring in the Chilcotin that figures in the play.
Gwen and her husband Barney Ringwood first discovered the Chilcotin Lodge in 1953 when they became good friends with Tom and Marion Rafferty and their children.
The Lodge stars Sharon Hoffman as Jasmine Daravalley; Karen MacDonald as Alice Daravalley Hobbs; Jay Goddard as Alice’s husband Eardley Hobbs; Kathleen MacDonald as Shelley Hobbs Marsdon; Rohan Keenan as Shelley’s husband Allan Marsdon; Pauline Bob-King as Shelley’s friend and lodge employee Marybelle; Michael Rawluk as Major Roland Anderson; Katalin Szauer as Roland’s wife Connie Daravalley Anderson; Chris Armstrong as Shelley’s cousin Robin Daravalley; and Jamie Regier as Chief Jimmy Lashaway.
There are two breaks in this play and it is worth watching during the first break how the set crew transforms a wilderness lodge into a woodland setting featuring a small soda spring.
The Lodge is on stage at the Studio Theatre tonight and Saturday night and for its final week Wednesday, March 22 to Saturday March 25 starting at 8 p.m. each evening.
Tickets are $20 and available at Kit and Kaboodle, The Open Book and online at www.wlstudiotheatre.com.