The History of Drinking uncorked at 4th Line Theatre
Cast rehearse a scene for 4th Line Theatre's The History of Drinking in Cavan recently at the Winslow Farm on Zion Line in Millbrook. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/POSTMEDIA NETWORK
About 20 years ago, Robert Winslow joked about writing a play on the history of drinking in Cavan.
That former joke is now the real deal.
The History of Drinking in Cavan premiered at 4th Line Theatre on Aug. 7 and continues until Aug. 26.
The two-act play takes the audience through alcohol consumption and production from the 1820s to today.
Winslow, who wrote, directs and stars in the play, calls it a "dramedy," a mix of drama and comedy.
"There's a lot of comedy in it and there's fair bit of serious stuff around the addiction and alcoholism and its impact on people," said Winslow.
The play is set in Cavan and Millbrook, with a few jaunts to Hope Township and Bewdley.
It has a smaller cast of characters, 11 overall. There's a mix of professional actors and community volunteers who play more than 50 roles.
Winslow is on stage for every scene. He plays two characters: Himself and King, the town drunk. At one point, the two characters are both on the stage together.
The History of Drinking in Cavan is personal for Winslow, likely the most personal play to date for the creative director.
During the second act of the play, Winslow travels back in time to resolve an issue with his mother.
He said that act is both very personal and very painful.
"Probably the most painful moment of my whole life."
Part of the play takes place right at Winslow Farm, where 4th Line Theatre is today on Zion Line in Millbrook.
It's the property Winslow's late parents, Jean and Lawrence, farmed his whole life and where he grew up.
The play begins with Winslow talking about where he used to feed the calves, sit with kittens and search for hen's eggs in the loft.
"It's all physical space that you're sitting in."
The play also features verbatim theatre and some horror references.
When doing research for the play, Winslow held a reminiscence group at the Millbrook Legion in 2011, where people shared stories of drinking. Some of the participants were in their 90s and have since died. Winslow recorded their words, which later inspired scenes or characters.
As for the horror element, well, Winslow loves horror movies. Look for connections to Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist and The Thing.
"There's a motif orally and sometimes visually ... anyone who's a horror film buff will notice those little references."
As much as Winslow said he'd like for 4th Line plays to be all fun and games, it's important to delve into serious issues as well.
Alcoholism and addiction have been around for years, yet it's not often talked about.
"It's a big issue and it has been for a long time."
Kim Blackwell, managing artistic director, said the play is a precedent piece in that regard, tackling a subject that tends to get swept under the rug.
"It really is what we do so well at 4th Line," she said.
Music direction and original composition are by Justin Hiscox, costume design is by Meredith Hubbard and Edward Belanger stars in the play as well as acting as fight director.
How to buy tickets for 4th Line Theatre:
By phone: 705-932-4445.
In Millbrook: Box office at 4 Tupper St.