Theatre production one of the most powerful to ever hit the Gore Bay stage

The cast of ‘This is how we got here’ includes, back row left, Will Smith and John Robertson, front row left, Shannon McMullan and Tara Bernatchez.

GORE BAY—Judging by this writer’s opinion and reinforced by those who attended the Friday evening presentation of ‘This is How We Got Here’ written by Metis playwright Keith Barker, the Gore Bay Theatre production of this play is one of the best and most powerful productions to ever hit the Gore Bay stage. 

“It was absolutely wonderful,” said John Diebolt. “Well done, there is nothing I would change. When you sit and watch it is so mesmerizing and powerful that you don’t realize the time has flown by and it is over. This was a wonderful production.”

“We see a lot of theatre in Sudbury and Stratford and the production we saw tonight is as good as it gets,” said Mr. Diebolt.

“It was an amazing play,” agreed Gloria Hall. “The main subject was so pertinent in today’s society.”

Andrea Emmerton, co-director of the Gore Bay Theatre production, told the crowd prior to the start of the play on Friday that this is the first time this play has ever been produced by a community theatre company.

This play has been described as being “simultaneously heart breaking and heart warming,” and this writer must whole heartedly agree with that assessment. ‘This Is How We Got Here’ is a powerfully reflective presentation of real human reactions to loss.

The story line is that one year ago, Paul and Lucille lost their son Craig. The play follows the interactions between Lucille’s sister Liset and her husband Jim they all try to weave their broken lives back together. There is also a fox involved in the story, but we shall leave its meaning to be discovered. The ties that keep the four characters together as sisters, best friends and spouses are strained by grief and guilt, until the visit from the fox changes everything. 

John Robertson plays the role of Craig’s father, Lucille’s husband and Jim’s best friend. His most powerful role in the play (among many others in a stellar performance) was when he spoke at a group therapy meeting relating a story of a forest fire as an analogy of his son’s death. What he was hit with was how it all came back to his son.

Tara Bernatchez plays the role of Craig’s mother Lucille, Paul’s wife and Liset’s sister. She played the role to a T. The effects of loss of someone that is gone are dealt with in actions and results, not words, which is typically not the norm for stage performances. Her performance was awesome.

As Lucille’s sister Liset, Craig’s aunt and Jim’s wife, Shannon McMullan’s tirade at the fox in her field erupted forth with so much pent up emotion, it was incredible. As usual she brought out her character and the issues she is facing with tremendous skill throughout.

The role of Liset’s husband Jim, Craig’s uncle and Paul’s best friend, was portrayed superbly by Will Smith. When Jim speaks to Paul about the circumstances surrounding Jim’s last interaction with Craig, I felt his blue-collar aesthetic melt away as he showcased a vulnerability with each rise and fall of his shoulders.

The acting in this entire production rose above the extraordinary. 

“That was pretty powerful,” said theatre attendee Sharon Stephens. “They deserve an award for that play.”

Speaking of awards, the Gore Bay Theatre production of ‘This is How We Got Here,’ co-directed by Andrea Emmerton and Walter Maskel, will be competing in the QUONTA drama festival in Sault Ste. Marie this week. It is an award winner in the eyes of this reviewer.

The play will hit the Gore Bay Theatre Company stage this summer.