By Lindsey Turnbull
It has been a good few months since Cayman Drama Society put on a performance at the Prospect Playhouse, the last one being Noises Off in May 2021, but thankfully that will all change on Thursday 24 February with the first of 12 performances of a new spooky thriller, The Deception of Kathryn Vask taking to the stage.
Theatre Manager Paul de Freitas directs the play and gave some background to the choice of production:
“Regular patrons of the Prospect Playhouse will know that co-director Erica Ebanks and I like to stretch the envelope. We like to offer themes that are new. Our previous plays show this trend: Sistahs, Proof, The Illusion, The Women, all are very different, as is The Deception of Kathryn Vask. We wanted to do a spooky thriller, and I think we found a great example of that.”
Paul said that although there were messages in the play, to discuss them would give the play away.
“Suffice to say that what seems to be reality, believable reality, is often not so, both in our personal and in our public space,” he advised.
The play was written by Mark Steensland in 2020 and tells the tale of a woman who wants to hold a séance after blaming herself for the death of her son. However, when her husband conspires with the pastor and hires actors for the séance to fake the proceedings, things take an interesting turn.
The CDS came across it a year ago as they were wrapping up The Women in February 2021.
“We always start looking for our next production once the current one is playing to audiences,” Paul advised.
CDS have been extremely careful with regard to the pandemic, putting protocols in place to mitigate the chance of infection.
“All of our Theatre Management Committee volunteers were vaccinated early on – our average age is probably around 70, so we had early opportunities,” he explained. “The same sensibility applied to auditions: we could only call for vaccinated actors. In the time since September, when we held the auditions, only one cast member has caught Covid and none of the crew have caught it.”
As a result, building the set for the latest production had been normal. However, changes were in place with regard to rehearsals.
“For the run up to the full run-through rehearsals, that actor has had to participate on Zoom. All cast and crew are briefed on personal responsibility to avoid Covid risk – but if you have kids, and they catch it at school, there is not a lot you can do,” Paul said.
Covid made no difference to the day-to-day operations of the theatre, Paul advised, however government regulation had put them “on the back foot” because of the law as applied only to theatres.
“Our audiences will be very small, deliberately so, in order to ensure legal social-distancing, something which is not applicable to bars, nightclubs, hotel banquet halls with capacity as much as ours,” he stated. “We had a great turnout for auditions, and we have many volunteers to work behind the scenes as crew and in the front-of-house – again, all vaccinated.”
Early ticket sales have been good and, as they can only accommodate about 60 people per performance, tickets will become scarce pretty quickly during the run, he said.
“If government eases the regulations as specifically applied to theatres, then we can free up more seats, we shall see.”
The CDS asks patrons to self-test on the day of their booked performance, and not to attend if they test positive – a legal requirement and a precondition of booking.
“There will be some post-show differences,” Paul added. “Our actors cannot mingle with patrons except distanced as we cannot take the risk of losing one during the show. So, it will be masks and social distancing when chatting to people after each show.”
The Deception of Kathryn Vask takes place at the Prospect Playhouse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, evenings as follows: 24 – 26 February, 3 to 5 March, 10 to 12 March, 17 to 19 March. Tickets are CI$25 for adults and CI$15 for students age 16 and under. For bookings, visit: https://ticket.cds.ky/booking