Against the Grain
Written by Carolyn Hay
Directed by Eric Coates
Starring John Dolan, Gil Garratt, Catherine Fitch, Lisa Norton and Tova Smith
At the Blyth Memorial Hall until Aug. 16.
The Blyth Festival in Huron County is a cradle of Canadian theatre. Against the Grain is one of the darkest plays the Blyth Festival has mounted.
Playwright Carolyn Hay covers a timeline from 1901 to 1951 as we meet three generations of a family. Henry is a self-made man who became rich building Manitoba grain elevators. He is a martinet who brow-beats his sensitive oldest son David. At the heart of the play are the questions his granddaughter Marlene asks Henry about his relationship with her father.
Director Eric Coates smoothly guides his strong cast through time as scenes move briskly between the present and the past.
The problem is that Hay has written her first act all too well. The conflict between Henry and David is so cataclysmically portrayed that it telegraphs the tragedy that is to come. The disappointment is that nothing of real consequence happens in the second act.
Against the Grain continues at the Blyth Festival until Aug. 16.