THE MILL (PART THREE): THE WOODS by Tara Beagan (Theatrefront). At the Young Centre (55 Mill). To April 3. 416-866-8666. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Part three of this spooky four-part look at Canadian history reveals the roots of the series’ complex mythology – namely, what happened on the land the titular mill is later built on to explain the paranormal activity seen in parts one and two.
In 1640, Marie (Michelle Latimer) and her daughter Lyca (Holly Lewis) – the lone survivors of a Wendat native settlement wiped out by European violence and sickness – trap a hapless French ethnographer (Ryan Hollyman) lost in the woods. Initially playing off tropes of tragic miscommunication in cross-cultural contact, the story takes an interesting turn when Marie falls in love with her prisoner, making Lyca – a violent and disturbed child – confused, jealous and vengeful.
The biggest problem with The Woods is that writer Tara Beagan employs anachronistic catchphrases and terms in her dialogue (a reference to sex “with the lights on” in 1640?). This breaks the illusion of immersion in a believable historical moment that both Gillian Gallow’s realistic wooden set and Dana Osborne’s period costumes work hard to create.
Lewis’s creepy performance, and an interlude featuring Jesuits walking on stilts, are memorable and haunting, but the show’s purported fear factor is left sadly under-realized.
Read reviews for The Mill (Part One) and The Mill (Part Two).