You know how, in a dream, things just happen and you accept them as unremarkable? How one moment you’re standing in a field talking to a cat about the quality of crepes in various European markets, and the next second you’re in your kitchen that doesn’t look anything like your kitchen and is, in fact, clearly a hot air balloon drifting through space, but you also know it’s your kitchen, so you think, “Huh, this is what my kitchen is like now”? Yeah, you know that feeling. We all do. How do you make that sort of feeling come to life onstage?
That’s the challenge and the fun of Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, by Edele Winnie. This brand-new play – winner of the 2019 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest – is a dream come to life. It tells the story of Giselle (Rebecca S. Mickle), a timid and possibly psychotic young woman who lives an isolated life with Apartment Giselle (Stephanie Cragg), the version of her who never leaves their apartment. Giselle works at a bank, where she shies away from contact with her co-workers (played by Cindy Pastorius, Gregory Girty, and Colin Zorzit), and pines for the affections of Robert (Luke Boughner) a handsome barista.
Then one day a mysterious stranger leaves a hat box on the subway. Giselle takes it home, unaware of what it contains. And the series of events that follows changes her life. Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands is a surreal journey of personal growth. It begins with mystery, even some fear, but through a bizarre and hilarious series of events, Giselle is reborn to face her demons and achieve her goals with the help of some unlikely motivational aides.
Choosing this script as the winner of the 2019 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest was a no-brainer for the contest judges. As co-director Fay Lynn puts it, “This script was instantly funny and engaging. The story itself is tight, and it’s a page-turner. It kept us wondering. What’s in the hat box? What’s Giselle going to do next?” Co-Director Michael O’Reilly agrees. “The word that comes to mind when I think of this script is ‘instantaneous’,” he explains. “The script was instantaneously engaging. It made me think of a professional improv troupe, where everyone is saying ‘yes’ to every suggestion, and that just propels the story forward. Every wacky opportunity is taken.”
The strength of the script was not only its bizarre sense of humour, but the believability of the strange world it created, and the clarity of its oddball protagonist, Giselle. “It was easy to accept everything that happened in the script, no matter how bizarre or mystical or mysterious,” says Lynn. “It was easy to accept because the world was so well-defined and the character of Giselle was so well-defined. There’s a stream of consciousness to the plot that works, and is somehow relatable.”
Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, written by Edele Winnie and directed by Fay Lynn and Michael O’Reilly, will be performed at The Shadowbox Theatre (103b – 1501 Howard Ave) February 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 2020. All performances begin at 8:00 PM (doors open 7:30). Tickets available in advance for $25 at postproductionswindsor.ca.