Kanata Kourier-Standard, Sept, 2011

Kanata Theatre starts season with a play based on Oscar Wilde short story

JIM HOLMES
Kanata Theatre

Before we worshiped science we worshiped the occult.

Hard to believe in this age of reason but the late 19th century was riddled with palmists, spiritual mediums, telepathists, "cheiromantists" and people who believed in them.

It all seems innocent enough, but what if people take it seriously?

That is the subject of the opening show of Kanata Theatre's 43rd Season,
West Moon Street, by Rob Urbinati. This new
comedy is based on Oscar Wilde's short story, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, first published in 1891.

When a "cheiromantist" (a palmist) foresees that Sir Arthur, in love with and engaged to Sybil, will commit a murder, Sir Arthur determines that he should get the dirty deed done before his wedding, so that the marriage will be unsullied. This means finding both a victim and a way to commit the crime.

There follows a tale of intrigue and misadventure filled with Wildean wit and aphorism and peopled by the inherently absurd English upper classes, who flaunt their peculiar idea of "duty" while at the same time wallowing in superstition. There is even an anarchist to highlight the fact that the 1890s marked the zenith of the European and North American anarchist movement.


Underpinning the high comedy of the play is the fundamental question of free will and predestination. If an event was foreseen, even on spurious grounds, then it must happen. As Lord Arthur puts it in the play: "Perhaps . . . we are merely puppets in an endless pantomime."

It might have been this theme that drew Wilde to the story.

Urbinati's play is not the only adaptation of Wilde's tale.  The story formed the basis of part of a 1943 movie, Flesh and Fantasy, which starred Edward G. Robinson. It has also been adapted for the stage by Trevor Baxter under the title Lord Arthur Savile's Crime.

West Moon Street is directed by Wendy Wagner. It features Aaron Ladouceur as Sir Arthur, Sandy Wynne as Lady Windermere, Jenny as Sybil, Gord Walls as Charles, Liane Freedman as Lady Clem, Katie King as Jane, Mark Bazerman as Podgers, and Howard Kaplan as Herr Winckelkopf,   most of whom are well known to Kanata audiences from previous performances.

Kanata Theatre's production of West Moon Street runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse , 1 Ron Maslin Way Sept. 20 to 24 and Sept. 26 to Oct. 1. Curtain is at 8 p.m. sharp. Individual tickets are $18. To reserve tickets call the box office at 613- 831- 4435. For information about
 subscriptions, please visit
 www.kanatatheatre.com.