Perfect storm of talents sets stage for Wild Honey

Phoenix offers Frayn adaptation of Chekhov to Feb. 20.

Anna Petrovna (Arielle Permack) tries to cheer up Platonov (Jack Hayes) with plans for the future

Anna Petrovna (Arielle Permack) tries to cheer up Platonov (Jack Hayes) with plans for the future

The joy of teaching first-year arts students is you see them early and watch them grow and progress and change and mature and become who they’re meant to be.

Peter McGuire, a teaching assistant professor in the theatre department at the University of Victoria, even volunteers for convocation ceremonies just to watch those students cross the stage.

Working with first-year students in a tight program such as theatre also puts him in a prime place to pick the productions to stage.

A little over a year ago he decided it was time for Wild Honey.

“I realized we had the right mix of students to do it,” the director said. “Sometimes you see a cohort come in and there’s just something about a group … you can spot certain talent, ability, gifts, combinations of people (and) also the gender mix.

“All the right things came together.”

Wild Honey is a 1984 Michael Frayn adaptation of an earlier play by Anton Chekhov.

“It’s classic work, it’s the gold standard of playwrights,” McGuire said of Chekhov. “It’s strong, it’s funny, it’s very well written. We’re enjoying his work more and more every day. We’re finding wonderful subtle clues in his writing.”

Wild Honey delves into the intricacies of love and the human condition via the charming but roguish main character Platonov – a schoolteacher and pseudo-philosopher who has a way with women.

When the village welcomes home the socialite and widow Anna Petrovna with a get-together on her country estate, the festivities get out of hand and everyone starts playing elaborate games of romantic cat-and-mouse, resulting in multitudinous love triangles.

“It’s the kind of play where young people can play these (older) characters, but it’s within their range, their intellectual and emotional range,” McGuire said.

Some will find it odd to see a younger person acting as an older one, but he’s confident they can capture the spirit.

While it’s set in the 1900s there’s a nod to the mid-1970s in the production.

“We’ve mashed it up a little bit and it’s been exciting for Graham (McMonagle, costume designer),” McGuire said. McMonagle returns to UVic for an MFA in costume design after a successful career as a professional ballet dancer.

McGuire also enjoys working with the students, on stage and off, in varying roles. For example, Dallas Ashby, set designer for Wild Honey, acted under his direction two years ago in Picnic.

“I get to work with her in a different way,” he said.

“It’s a big-scale show,” he added. “She’s got the full sandbox to play in. It’s given her scope as a designer.”

With a nod to rural Russian architecture, graduating fifth-year student Ashby offers lush but rugged portrayals of estate gardens, an old schoolhouse and birch forests.

The lighting design is created by a former colleague from the professional days, Michael Whitfield, an original student in the theatre department

“He’s had an illustrious career around the world,” McGuire said.

Whitfield – resident lighting designer for Stratford Festival for more than 25 years and now a sessional UVic instructor –  created a lighting design that highlights those birch creating shadows for clandestine activity.

“It’s great for our students to witness that (returning of almni). They see the legacy, the history, the passing of the torch in many ways,” McGuire said. “They get to witness the fact that you can … go on to have a full, rich, rewarding career in the arts.”

University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre presents Wild Honey from Feb. 11 to 20.

“It’s about human relationships and anyone in the audience will recognize themselves on that stage – young love, old love, unrequited love, heartbreak,” McGuire said.

Tickets range from $15 to $25. Call the Phoenix Box Office 250- 721-8000.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Coroner Andy Watson confirmed the death of a man in Chemainus Monday night.
Death at Victoria encampment for people who are homeless deemed not suspicious

BC Coroners Service now investigating death at Royal Athletic Park Jan. 23

Learning tools from the Garth Homer Society’s LifeStreams program have gone online. (Facebook/Garth Homer Society)
Online platform launched for Greater Victoria adults with developmental disabilities

Platform includes programs, events, activities and COVID-19 resources

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read