As you may know, the Canadian province of Newfoundland Labrador overflows with mighty and magnificent natural beauty and unusually moody scenery. The North Atlantic pounds Newfoundland’s forbidding, rocky coves causing thousands of shipwrecks since the dawn of ships. The long and slender waterfalls, the silent passing icebergs, the tail-whomping whales, the wildflowers and the birds – familiar and rare – all contribute to Newfoundland’s draw to this outdoors of the outdoors.
On a recent trip my pals and I hiked in the famed national park, Gros Morne, took a wild Zodiac ride to get close to an iceberg, visited lighthouses and museums, saw majestic moose and fantastic sunsets, and were mesmerized watching puffins on their breeding grounds.
We were advised to make time during this adventure for a long-running dinner-theatre production about a shipwreck. At a motel. The theatre snob in me said, “No thanks.” She, my inner theatre snob, interpreted “long-running” as tired; dinner-theatre as old hat; “shipwreck” as improbable to pull off in this little town called Cow Head; and “at a motel” as absolutely dreadful. But we were staying at the motel, so to the theatre we went. We even took off our boots and put on nice, clean clothes for the dull evening ahead.
The show was GREAT! The story is TRUE! It’s FRESH, EXCITING, TENSION FILLED and COMPASSIONATE. It’s also FUNNY! The seven actors, playing 16 roles are AMAZING! And the dinner was REALLY GOOD.
Now, to quit the caps and explain why I believe this true story about a shipwreck in December of 1919 thrilled and excited me. Playwright Shane Ellis Coates cleverly created this play, S.S. Ethie, as a play within a play. It begins with a newspaper reporter interviewing a captain who was on board the Ethie when the ship wrecked during a horrific storm. The captain in charge had decided that the only way to save the lives of the passengers was to purposely run the old, weak steamer aground.