THUNDER BAY – ENTERTAINMENT – Of Human Bondage is the story of Philip Carey, an artist and medical student who falls obsessively in love with Mildred, a tea shop waitress, who unfortunately does not fully return Philip’s affection. Set in the 1890s, the play is an adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel, written by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen. The laughter that fills the hall is to break the tension of the story.
“It’s fantastic,” say Magnus Artistic Director Thom Currie, who directs the show. “We haven’t stopped laughing since we started. This is a wonderful and warm group of people who genuinely get along, coming together to tell a heart-wrenching story.”
The Magnus Theatre version of Of Human Bondage features eight performers from across Canada, many of whom are new to the Magnus stage.
Philip Carey is played by Ken James Stewart, a young actor who has performed lead roles in major theatres across Canada, from Montreal’s Segal Centre to the Stratford and Shaw Festivals. Stewart is thrilled to be making his Magnus debut in such a complex play.
“It’s the story of a guy head over heels in love with the wrong woman,” he says. “It’s daunting and exciting, to be able to peel back the layers of a character like this, to understand how and why people behave the way they do.”
Kevin Hare was last at Magnus in the early 1990s, having appeared in several shows in the old east end theatre. He is a veteran theatre actor, having performed across North America and appeared in television shows like The West Wing and Saving Hope. He is impressed with the “new” Magnus Theatre, which has been in Waverly Park since 2002.
“I remember the quirks and challenges of the old theatre building, where you sometimes had to go outside to cross from one part of the stage to another,” Hare laughs. “This (new) theatre is wonderful, so versatile.” Hare plays several roles in Of Human Bondage, notably Cronshaw, and older poet who extolls the value of art in humanity.
Gabriella Colavecchio, who has also worked in theatres across the country, plays Mildred, the young woman with whom Carey falls tragically in love, and who, in her own way, loves him back.
“It’s so much fun to play someone so flawed,” she smiles. “A lot of female characters can be simple plot points, or overly nice. Mildred is a complex and interesting female lead.” Indeed, the character is often seen as a villain. Currie does not see Mildred as nasty.
“No, not at all,” he says. “She is very complicated, very much a woman of her time and her own experience, but she’s not a villain. I think the audience will be as drawn to Mildred as Philip is. There is something irresistible about her, and about this particular love story.”
The rest of the cast are a who’s who of Canadian Theatre artists: Paul Van Dyck, Iain Stewart, Siobhán Bolton, Kate Madden and Josh Wiles, all of whom have worked in theatres across Canada and internationally. They all agree that this is a show not to be missed.
“There is something about this play that really speaks to an audience,” says Van Dyck. “In addition to characters that are fascinating, Of Human Bondage touches on something that we have all been a part of at one time or another.”
“The bonds that we experience as human beings,” interrupts Currie as the company returns to the rehearsal hall. “That’s what the title of the play refers to: how each person that we interact with becomes part of our own life story; how the bonds we form with others make us who we are and what we become.”
Of Human Bondage runs at Magnus Theatre from March 6-18, 2017. For information and tickets, visit www.magnus.on.ca, or call the box office at (807) 345-5552. The play is recommended for audiences 14 and over.