CAT actors perform a suspenseful scene from Blood Relations, which opens at the Nickle Studio Friday, May 10. (Contributed photo).

CAT tackles the murky Lizzie Borden story when ‘Blood Relations’ opens at Red Deer theatre

Did she or didn’t she? Find out more about the historic who-dunnit at Nickle Studio

The real-life Gothic horror story of Lizzie Borden — who might, or might not have axe murdered her parents — is being brought to stage by Central Alberta Theatre.

Blood Relations, which opens Friday, May 10, at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at the Memorial Centre, is everything local theatre-goers are not expecting of a stage production, says director Piper Rempel.

“It’s not about having polite conversations, like we think theatre should be in Red Deer …”

Instead, Rempel describes this play by Calgary playwright Sharon Pollock as “disjointed, in a horror-story-like way, and definitely suspenseful … we have a lot of axes on stage …”

The faint of heart needn’t worry, though. Rempel believes this show is more about creating “high calibre excitement” and sparking discussions about women’s roles than being an outright gore-fest.

“The kind of people who cover their eyes at horror movies will still enjoy it” — stage blood and all, she promises.

This is the first Central Alberta Theatre production for the Red Deer native, who has a education/drama degree from the University of Alberta and now lives in Edmonton.

Rempel says she was drawn to Pollack’s feminist script, which won a Governor General’s Award in 1981.

Its dream-like sequences combine factual aspects of the Borden murder investigation and trial from 1892, with some modern and historic speculation.

After the jury in the case — a Victorian version of the O.J. Simpson trial, in terms of rabid public interest and media scrutiny — decided not to convict Lizzie of murdering her father and stepmother, she was still found guilty in the court of public opinion.

And speculation dogged her for the rest of her life — including whispers about her sexuality.

Lizzie, who never married and continued to live with her sister, Emma, was rumoured to be romantically involved with the actress Nance O’Neill.

Pollock uses this purported lesbian relationship to try to flesh out what happened in the well-to-do Borden household in Fall Rivers, Mass., on the morning her parents were killed.

Perhaps, more importantly, she attempts to answer questions around motive.

Blood Relations is actually a play within a play, says Rempel. When Lizzie, played by Tara Rorke, is pestered to reveal what really happened, she invites Nance (Heather Lawrence) to help re-enact various scenarios, with Nance playing Lizzie and Lizzie depicting her former housekeeper, Bridget, who discovered her stepmother’s body.

Rempel believes Pollock adds to the salacious Borden history some thoughtful consideration around the repressive expectations of 19th-century women.

The director credits her cast of seven for being “all in” for bringing this murky tale to life.

Blood Relations runs May 10-12, 24-26 and May 31 and June 1. Tickets (ages 14-plus recommended) are from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Coat, cash donations accepted on the side of the road in Red Deer

Fifth annual Coats for Kids and CACPC Charity Checkstop held Saturday afternoon on Taylor Drive

UPDATE: Red Deer RCMP locate missing 64-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP have located a 64-year-old woman, who was reported missing,… Continue reading

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Small Business Centre at Burman University’s School of Business invites… Continue reading

Scheer won’t say if Conservatives hired consultant to ‘destroy’ People’s party

TORONTO — With election day less than 48 hours away, Andrew Scheer… Continue reading

Man’s death in Richmond, B.C. suspicious, not random, say investigators

RICHMOND, B.C. — The discovery of a man’s body in a Richmond,… Continue reading

Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder… Continue reading

Mexico says Trump shows ‘solidarity’ after suspect freed

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday he… Continue reading

‘I am back,’ Bernie Sanders tells supporters at NYC rally

NEW YORK — Storming past questions about his health, Bernie Sanders vowed… Continue reading

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has a marathon day of campaigning… Continue reading

Most Read