Ghosts and violence lie through the doors of the AWT

Mourning Becomes Electra holds death, despair, violence and a whole lot more

Amos (Andrew Lucas) prepares to break a wine glass over Seth’s (Rem Murray) face in the upcoming play. (Submitted)

Mourning Becomes Electra, written by Eugene O’Neill and adapted by TRU professor Heidi Verwey, is the last of the Actor’s Workshop Theatre’s big productions of the 2018/2019 season.

Mourning Becomes Electra is a thrilling, haunted tale which follows the Mannon’s, a wealthy family living in England during the early 1900s. This story shows the plights of this tormented family as they all live a life of scandal and betrayal. Lavinia and Orin Mannon, the children of Ezra and Christine Mannon, are determined to end their mother’s crimes, but this only leads to death and despair.

Although the universe revolves around the Mannon’s, many other characters exist in it, including their many servants, the townspeople and their close friends, the Niles’.

James McFarlane, a third-year TRU student, plays the role of Dr Blake, one of the townspeople in the show. McFarlane has acted in two productions at TRU, with Mourning Becomes Electra being the third. McFarlane says that the show is very similar to a horror movie.

“I never really thought horror could actually work in a theatre production, but seeing it all in action, it’s actually amazed me with what people can come up with,” he said

Greg Brown, a second-year theatre major at TRU, plays Peter Niles, Lavinia Mannon’s love interest in the play. Mourning Becomes Electra is Brown’s debut at AWT, but he did participate in Director’s Festival in 2018. Brown says that the play is “a scary soap opera in ways” and adds that “a lot of interesting relationships are explored [in the play].”

“Relationships in old love, new love, betrayal between family and friends, and that sort of thing,” Brown said.

Shannon Cooper, a first-year Bachelor of Education student who has completed the theatre program at TRU, plays Christine Mannon, the malevolent mother of Orin and Lavinia. Cooper has been working on shows, either as an actor or as backstage personnel, for the past five years since she began at TRU. Mourning Becomes Electra is the fourth show she’s acted in at the university.

“[Mourning Becomes Electra] is a new spin on an old classic for sure,” she said. “It has elements of horror sprinkled throughout and there’s a lot of manipulation.”

Cooper says the audience will feel out of their comfort zone, but that “it’s thrilling, it’s interesting and it’s fun.”

She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen and The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr by Jovette Marchessault were very different shows in comparison to Mourning Becomes Electra. Brown and Cooper had thoughts about these differences when looking back at the previous shows this season.

Brown says that this show is very dramatic in contrast to the other ones which were a comedy and a historic, play-type documentary, adding that “it’s very dark in comparison.”

Cooper says that this show is different because it’s a horror and it’s definitely more soap opera-like. Regarding the other two shows, Cooper said that ”one was very realistic, one was very fantasy and this one’s kind of both.”

Mourning Becomes Electra opens at AWT on Feb. 28, with shows on Feb. 28, March 1 and 2, and March 7-9, starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15, and are available by phone or in person at the AWT box office (250-377-6100) or online at brownpapertickets.com.