Monday, December 11, 2017

Dickens’ unsolved mystery brought to the stage at Langham Court

March 4, 2015 by Tori Dmytar, contributing writer

The great author and storyteller Charles Dickens wrote The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but the case could never be solved. Dickens passed away before writing the end of the story, leaving his last piece of work unresolved and in the hands of desperate playwrights trying to take advantage of his untold tale.

Langham Court Theatre is producing a comedic, musical adaptation of the novel this season that will be directed by long-time theatre volunteer Roger Carr. Carr has been at Langham for many years, so he happily accepted the offer to put on this production, saying that this show has a unique quality to it.

“It’s set in a British musical in 1892. It’s kind of got a real feel for it that you don’t get in many places these days,” says Carr.

Charles Dickens died before finishing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, so the conclusion is up to the audience (photo by David Lowes).

 

Even though this tale has been adapted to the stage, the playwright never dictated the ending. Instead, many possible endings were written, and the audience votes on who they think the murderer is. Carr says that regardless of whom the audience picks as the criminal, the show is sure to have an exciting ending.

“We did a rehearsal in which each of the seven murderers was chosen, so each one of them got to try their thing,” he says. “I was anticipating chaos, but they were all equally brilliant.”

But the voting doesn’t stop there; the audience also chooses who the lovers will be. Carr says that there are vast age differences among the actors, so the show could end up with a pretty scandalous couple.

“We have one man who is in his seventies and we have one young lady who is probably about early twenties, or we have the reciprocal, we have an older woman and a younger man,” says Carr, adding that there is a brother/sister duo as well.

This show is a perfect example of how wild and unexpected theatre can be. So what about the man directing it? Does he spend his own time doing wild and crazy things, too?

Well, in fact, Carr says it’s quite the opposite.

After a long career of teaching, Carr enjoys his relaxation with a bit of theatre on the side. Even though he directs large shows like The Mystery of Edwin Drood, he also enjoys the serenity that he found in retired life.

“I retired from teaching four years ago, and now I do my very best not to be too busy,” he explains. “I went to university, studied theatre, and I taught theatre for 33 years and lived happily ever after.”

Even though Carr is living a “happily ever after” scenario, the same can’t be said for the play. How can it when its fate lies with the audience?

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
8 pm March 4-25
$24, Langham Court Theatre
langhamtheatre.ca

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