1863. Mice are gathering under the floorboards of a wealthy Halifax estate. In the servants’ quarters, Charlie is setting traps while Adelaide, the drunken scullery maid, has delusions of sainthood. The two servants become the fascination of their employer’s wayward son, home with stories of travels in strange lands. A love triangle develops driven by greed, temper and a perverse sense of destiny, culminating in a violent act.
Minimally staged, with an intimate audience/performer relationship, Penny Dreadful is a tale of revelation and love in the age of syphillis.
“Imagine me rather than know me. It isn’t what you are that matters, but what others consider you to be.”
Winner of 2 Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Awards
Outstanding Performance by a Supprting Actor – Stewart Legere
Outstanding Original Music or Score – Jason Michael MacIsaac and David Christensen
Nominated for a Theatre Nova Scotia Merritt Award for
Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Playwright – Zuppa Theatre Co.
Praise for Penny Dreadful:
“I love Zuppa… and Penny Dreadful is the best thing I’ve ever seen them do, which is saying a lot… I highly recommend it.”
Tara Thorne, CBC Radio
“All three actors gave incredibly strong performances… a tightly flowing visual experience.”
Susan Peake, Review Vancouver
“It’s exciting to see a Nova Scotia company which started in street theatre for family audiences at this level of mature artistry… the experience is like watching contemporary dance, as metaphors, emotions and the delightfully gritty, histroic atmosphere build to envelop a viewer in a different world.”
Elissa Barnard, The Chronicle Herald
“When I left the North Street Church after seeing Penny Dreadful, I was humming a lovely tune that somehow morphed into “Away in the Manger” by the time I got home. The music was so haunting, yet slippery, that I’m sorely tempted to go see the production again, both to fix the music in my head and because the show was so fantastic. The story is about a violent love triangle, but it is told with Zuppa’s special brand of heightened theatricality. Sue Leblanc-Crawford plays Adelaide, a charismatic maid who is “touched in the head,” with energy and vivacity, and it’s easy to see why both the outwardly stalwart but inwardly seething groundskeeper Charlie (Ben Stone) and the madcap and unbalanced gentleman Harry (Stewart Legere) are attracted and attractive to her. The crime scene seems a little abrupt, despite the fact that the play barrels towards that moment from the first word, but that doesn’t stop Penny Dreadful from being a satisfying and magical production.”
Kate Watson, The Coast
“It has been two and a half years since I first saw Zuppa Theatre’s Penny Dreadful, and like a fine wine, it has become even more brilliant with time.”
Kate Watson, The Coast (two years later)
“Their stories are often rooted in a simple and familiar narrative, but expand away from the narrative in unpredictable, abstract, metaphysical, and fantastical ways… a kind of play in which the live cellist can rise from her place behind the stage to join the actors as they pace the floor saying hello, to no one in particular and no one visible.”
“This is what makes [Zuppa] shine, their ability to draw you into their world. The strong, focused acting creates vivacious, complex characters. The imaginative and simple lighting accents the action, creates architecture, ambience, and drama. Their use of props is truly magical, as a table becomes Adelaide’s bed, the drawbridge of an African palace, a bar, a grave. A well-developed sense of storytelling is always present…”
Kathleen McKenna, Curtain Rising Magazine