NAGs Players score major points for community theatre with Egad, the Woman in White.
The NAGs Players are a community theatre inspiration – starting out as a group of rugby players who wanted something to do in their off-season, the company has been around for more than 30 years, and it is still going strong, with a loyal fan base and three shows a year.
This particular NAGs production is community theatre at its best. Humble, self-referential, smart and teeming with unexpected talent, Egad, the Woman in White makes for a genuinely awesome night of theatre.
The story begins with the antagonist, Sir Percival Glyde (Luke Slade), a 20th century Englishman who fancies himself a gentleman, but in actuality, is nothing more than an evil-doer who can’t pay his bills and has quite the gambling problem. We follow Sir Percival as he plots to make his fortune and pay his debts by marrying sweet and dutiful Laura (Adelina Fabiano), a well-to-do heiress whose father promised Sir Percival his daughter’s hand in marriage as he lay on his deathbed.
Throw in a few mad characters, who are all after Sir Percival’s impending riches, like sly Lawyer Gilmore (Rachel McKim) and the hilariously evil Countess Fosco (Pamela Barker), and you have a team of antagonistic folk. Then there’s Sir Percival’s not-so-dimwitted servant, Dora (played by Nicole Freeman, who’s English accent was spot on), Laura’s soulful artist love interest, Frenchman Walter Hartright (Elliot Shermet) and saccharine Cousin Marian (Kris Fleming), and you have quite a cast of characters out to foible Sir Percival.
The resolution to all of Sir Percival’s wrongdoing is deliciously fitting – and it’s well worth the wait to reach the play’s heated climax.
Egad, the Woman in White is a melodrama, a style of theatre that encourages audience participation like booing and hissing at villains, or loudly cheering for or sympathizing with protagonists. The audience was incredibly vocal on the night I saw Egad, the Woman in White, and the energy the audience gave to the stage enhanced the feeling we all know so well as theatregoers – that we are all part of something larger than life when we watch people play.
Being able to share my voice from the audience made me feel even more connected to the theatregoing experience than usual. My play partner actually remarked that she enjoyed Egad, the Woman in White more than some big Mirvish shows – and she was one of the loudest in the audience!
Perhaps my expectations were low because NAGs is a community theatre company, but I was seriously impressed by the acting. Not only was our very own Adelina Fabiano an endearing heroine as Laura, but I found each character more entertaining than the next – Barker’s Countess Fosco was dramatically funny, Shermet’s Walter Hartright was lovable and even insane asylum guard, Miss Peach, played by Susan Q. Wilson, was a standout character, the perfect mixture of sinister and likable.
What the show lacks in set design and fancy lighting, it more than makes up for with talent, charm and a wide-eyed love of theatre. The cast’s enthusiasm for their craft is infectious – my play partner and I both heard several audience members commenting on what a wonderful time they had and how they would pay good money to see another NAGs production. I couldn’t agree more.
Photograph of Kris Fleming as Marian, Elliot Shermet as Walter and Adelina Fabiano as Laura by Dan Corrie.