My dear friends at Spectral Theatre approached me about doing an original Lovecraftian Horror, set in 1750's Versailles, which has long been a favourite period of mine. I was so excited, I didn't even let the birth of my daughter, in the middle of it all, stop me from diving straight in!
The play begins in an insane asylum, in the cell of Old Percival Wilkes, played by Simon Hussey. The aslym keeper, Dr.Marlow, played by his brother, Des Hussey, brings in a young writer named Truman, played by Kevin Miller, who's interested in Old Percy's story. Percy has been accused of murdering his wife, Sarah, while on a trip to France, shortly after their marriage.
Percy begins his tale in the town of Versailles, where he, as a young man (Michael Cope), with his wife Sarah (Bonny Giroux), had travelled to seek patronage as a poet. Their friend, Pierre (Derek Bedry), brings them to the home of the wealthy Count Davoux and his family.
Seth Little played the Count Davoux with his usual flair, and Lori Watt was his beautiful and evil Countess. I worked very hard to make this rust coloured gown decadent enough for Lori, and she wore with wonderful swagger.
Crystal Sevigny and Erin Puckey played the lovely and seductive daughters, Roselle and Marie-Julie. My assistant, Kathy Coller and I spent four months building the gowns from the bottom layer out, including corsets and panniers. We had to quick change the costumes, so they had to be custom-made. Besides, I prefer to make corsets to fit whenever possible.
Having recieved and invitation from the Davoux to a party, Sarah goes to buy a dress from shopgirl Isabelle, played by Meeshelle Neal, while Percy dozes in his chair. I was very pleased with the way the frayed detailing on the front of the skirt turned out on this pink gown. Then Isabelle's auntie (Stephanie Dyck), the dressmaker, comes in and gives Percy a dire warning and an amulet to protect his wife.
Pierre then takes Percy to a local tavern, where Stephanie Dyck and Erin Puckey play local whores, in the same underwear that fits under their elegant court gowns.
Of course, the ball in Act III was where I really got to have fun. Kathy and I created half a dozen gorgeous gowns, and Des Hussy assembled a large collection of masks, including this ridiculously phallic one Seth Little is wearing.
While the men's party clothes didn't quite overshadow Sarah's pink concoction, well, they weren't really supposed to.
Vaughn Jones played the malicious Sylvain, a sycophant of the Davoux, in flawless French.
Isabelle appears at the ball, having snuck away from her auntie. And choreographer Rachael Pope taught the cast a lovely dance which really showed off the costumes. The gentleman dancing with Isabelle is the playwright and co-director (along with Des Hussey), Blake Drezet.
Percy recites his poem for the guests, but soon Sylvain, Roselle and Marie-Julie move in to seduce the young couple and their friend...
Drugged and confused, Percy stumbles upon a strange orgy, resided over by a huge, tentacled monster, who is devouring his Sarah. The quickchange for the orgy was a challenge, considering the layers of costumes and wigwork we had to remove, and the blood that needed to be painted on the actors. The monster took four people to operate. Unfortunately, it was very hard to photograph, being so dimly lit. But the result was quite effective.
Duncan Shields and Vincent Riel filled in several different roles, including the asylum thugs, "Earnest and Burke", footmen at the DaVoux palace, random bar louts, and hideous grub monsters. Talented boys.
I'd like to dedicate this site to my brilliant and dedicated assistant, Kathy Coller. This was Kathy's first foray into theatre. She was amazed at the destructive force that is actors, and couldn't believe that anyone could damage her cartridge pleating. She worked long days and nights, was always supportive, and stayed to work on two more shows after this, before passing away in the spring of 2009. I have never had a friend work so selflessly to make my dreams come true. I'll never forget you, Kathy.
I'd also like to dedicate it to my daughter, Elizabeth, who was born one month into the costume build, and contributed greatly to our success by sleeping, most of the time.
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