SYNOPSIS – Detailed
Eva Clayton, a successful architect in Louisiana, is struggling with the two central relationships in her life. Her mother, Edith, is dying. Her lover, Brian, also her partner in the architecture firm, is pressing her for a commitment. While overseeing the demolition of an 18th century house prior to erecting a mall on the site, Eva meets Joseph. At first she takes him for a construction worker and then when Joseph insists that he dug the foundations of the house back in the 1700’s she presumes she’s suffering from some sort of stress-induced delusion. Gradually Eva accepts that Joseph is a lost soul and only she can see him and talk to him. A conversation at Edith’s bedside between Brian and Eva is overheard by Edith who realizes for the first time that her own idyllically happy marriage made Eva feel excluded as an only child, and that, as an adult, Eva’s difficulties in love stem from her idealized perception of her parent’s perfect romance. To Brian’s further chagrin Eva begins to return to the construction site in the evenings, apparently alone, but actually finding solace in her conversations with Joseph. She learns of his life in Acadie, how he was among thousands of Acadians deported by the English in 1755, and how his mother died on that awful sea voyage. Then to her surprise, Eva learns from Edith that her own predecessors were French-speaking settlers. Mother and daughter also broach what Edith has overheard and reach an understanding. On the strength of this reconciliation Edith makes a surprising request. She wants Eva to go away, she doesn’t want her to witness her dying; she wants to be remembered as herself, not what she’s about to become. While Eva agonises over this, she learns that at the time of the deportation Joseph made a promise that he would one day return to Grand Pre. Now Joseph appeals to Eva to help him keep that promise. The first Act ends with Joseph asking Eva to take him home.
Act 2 follows Eva and Joseph on the road to Grand Pre and charts the delicate development of their interdependence. Her belief in Joseph and the physical limitations that inevitably exist between them teaches Eva something about the importance of faith in any relationship. For his part, Joseph avails himself of the unexpected opportunity to purge himself of certain feelings which death seemed to have sealed inside him forever. Meanwhile, Brian doesn’t give up on Eva. Indeed, after Edith’s death, Brian pursues Eva and attempts to persuade her to return with him to Louisiana. Eva refuses to do this. Nor can she bring herself to attempt an explanation of her apparently solo expedition northward. On arrival at Grand Pre, Joseph is bewildered by the monuments which publicly proclaim significant events in his private life. In particular, the plaque describing the Noble massacre in which some sixty English soldiers were surprised in their beds by a French contingent aided by MiqMaq trackers and some Acadians. Joseph’s older brother was one of those Acadians and took fifteen year-old Joseph along with him – this in defiance of their father’s staunchly neutral position. The English reprisals for such attacks culminated in the mass deportation for which Joseph has always felt personally responsible. Joseph’s ailing father had to be left behind and it was to his dying father that Joseph made the promise to return. Eva is the only person he has been able to confide in about his remorse and guilt. And so Joseph, purged at last, and in a sense absolved by Eva’s love for him, walks off into the early morning mist of the dykeland, his home. As Eva stands where we discovered her at the beginning of the play, her mother enters, restored to the Saturday night splendour of her prime when she would go out dancing. Mother and daughter say a final farewell. Alone, Eva takes a call from Louisiana.
Developed by Willpower Theatre, workshopped with Jean Yoon (Toronto) as Dramaturge in 2003. Reading in Jane 2004. Production July 2004, in Wolfville NS.
Produced by Wilpower Theatre, July 2004 in Wolfville, NS.
Sherry Lee Hunter, Graham Percy, Maura Lee Austin and Jan Filips in the cast.
Directed by Ed Thomason