MILLBROOK — The world premiere of Icelandic-Canadian playwright Maja Ardal’s new play “Wishful Seeing” is coming to 4th Line Theatre in August.
The play, based on Janet Kellough’s novel of the same name, tells the story of Taddeus Lewis, a travelling preacher in 1850s central Ontario, who becomes embroiled in a mystery after a body is found on an isolated island on Rice Lake.
At the same time, drama ensues as railway mania seizes a colony and locals hope to get rich quick from the new Cobourg-Peterborough railway line. A conflicted Lewis, meanwhile, grapples with his feelings for a woman accused of murder.
4th Line Theatre’s managing artistic director Kim Blackwell, the play’s director, knew the story would find a fitting home at the Winslow Farm in Millbrook when she first picked up a copy of “Wishful Seeing” six years ago.
Blackwell reached out to Kellough about bringing the text to life on stage and “Wishful Seeing’s” road to 4th Line Theatre began.
“I was attracted to ‘Wishful Seeing’ upon first reading because I do like a murder mystery and in ‘Wishful Seeing’ we have a great ‘who dunnit.’” Blackwell stated in a release.
Ardal, who has brought her award-winning solo shows to audiences in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., says the play is more than a murder mystery.
“Old World faith collides with greed as the people grapple with the hopes and fears of a new Industrial Age,” she said.
Lewis, the saddlebag preacher, will be played by 4th Line Theatre founder and creative director Robert Winslow. He’s accompanied by local favourite Megan Murphy, who will return to the Winslow Farm’s mainstage following the success of The Verandah Society.
Making her 4th Line Theatre debut, Kate Bemrose will play Thaddeus’ granddaughter. She’ll be joined by Martha Renwell and Naomi Duvall, along with Toronto-based actors Tavaree Daniel-Simms and Conor Ling.
The play will also see the return of Kait Dueck, Justin Hiscox, Mark Hiscox, J.D. “Jack” Nicholsen, Ryan Tobin and Hilary Wear to the 4th Line stage.
Previews will take place on Aug. 2 and 3 ahead of opening night on Aug. 4. The show will run until Aug. 27.
Tickets can be purchased online at 4thlinetheatre.on.ca, by phone at 705-932-4445, or at 4th Line Theatre’s box office at 4 Tupper St., Millbrook.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner