Entertainment Local

Play explores little known piece of Canadian history

Dave Carley

Dave Carley

Esca Brooke was the first son of Charles Brooke, the legendary and scandalous ‘White Rajah of Sarawak’ and his Malaysian bride.

After Esca’s mother died, the Rajah remarried. His new wife didn’t like the idea of someone else’s son being first in line for the throne of Sarawak (now part of Malaysia). So Esca was sent into exile - to Madoc, Ontario.

Canadian Rajah, a new play by Dave Carley, explores the true story of Esca Brooke, a little known piece of Canadian history. After living in Madoc with his adoptive parents, Esca attended Port Hope’s Trinity College School, where he was Head Boy. He went on to have a successful career with Hollinger Mines. Life for Esca was good, except for one thing: the Brooke family would never recognize him as one of their own.

Local audiences can get a sneak preview of Canadian Rajah, which is being given a staged reading on Monday, Aug. 29 at Wesleyville Church at 7 p.m.

Two much-praised Canadian actors, Chick Reid and Richard Lee, are starring in the reading. Complementing the script will be a display of paintings by Port Hope artist Herb Jung. Some of Esca Brooke’s descendents will be in attendance.

Playwright Dave Carley is the award-winning author of last fall’s popular play Midnight Madness, which was produced in various locations on Walton Street in Port Hope. His plays have been performed across Canada and the United States, and often feature historical events.

Actor Chick Reid is a much-loved veteran of Stratford. She now makes her home in this area. She is playing the Ranee of Sarawak – the Rajah’s second wife who will do anything to keep the throne of Sarawak for her own offspring. Richard Lee is a rising Toronto actor, currently starring in a production of Romeo and Juliet. He is taking on the role of Esca Brooke.

Wesleyville Church is a lovingly restored church just west of Port Hope. The reading will last about an hour. There is no admission charge, though donations will be gratefully accepted. The reading will begin at 7 p.m.