JC’S THEATRE SPOTLIGHT – The West Woods

TITLE:  The West Woods

VENUE:  Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre

COMPANY/EVENT:  Eastern Front Theatre – Stages Festival

DATES:  May 16 - 19, 2017

SYNOPSIS:  Christmas 1968, a time of great social upheaval.  MLK and RFK are assassinated that year.  And in Nova Scotia, they’re building a new bridge over Halifax Harbour, which leads to the bulldozing of Africville.  Harsh realities that even divide the Clarke family, deep in the West Woods, an isolated black community in Guysborough County.

HIGHLIGHT:  They say “write what you know”.  For actor/writer/producer Tara Reddick, her upbringing in Antigonish, and her family roots in Upper Big Tracadie, no doubt provided her with the first-hand experience of a black family in rural Nova Scotia, dealing with a fast changing world.  Reddick’s dialogue jumps from the page into completely believable, fully-drawn characters.  You will feel like you’re eavesdropping on the Clarkes at a pivotal time in their family history.

SHINING STARS:  Terrific ensemble cast at work here.  Mariah Inger as Betty, the Clarke family matriarch, attempting to raise her family in a traditional environment.  Alexandra Laferriere and Nathan D. Simmons as the married couple in turmoil – she wants the family to stay under the radar, believing things will be easier for them if they don’t create waves among the white community who control the local economy, he believes in a greater cause, and enlists their teenage daughter, played by the wonderful Micha Cromwell, to join him in the founding days of Nova Scotia’s Black United Front.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS:  The West Woods deals with Nova Scotia racism from a unique perspective, the experience of a rural black family in a very turbulent time.  With a backdrop of cataclysmic world and local events, experiencing these times within a very personal family setting gives one a starkly realistic sensation of a dark moment in history.