Reviewed by Paula Citron
There were audible gasps in the audience as the teenage city slicker spouted off his anti-religious diatribes in the Blyth Festival’s daring world premiere of Leanna Brodie’s The Book of Esther. This is a play of disturbing ideas – almost too many of them.
The Esther of the title is a 15-year-old farm girl who has run away to a safe house in Toronto where she meets up with the streetwise A.D. Esther’s mother is a born-again evangelical Christian, while her father is a struggling farmer. There is also a mysterious former relationship between Todd, the gay man who runs the safe house, and Esther’s parents.
Director Leah Cherniak skilfully negotiates through these troubled waters by concentrating on character development aided by Brodie’s snappy dialogue. The acting is excellent.
The playwright also manages to find a realistic ending that can satisfy most people, which is no mean feat.
The Blyth Festival continues at Blyth Memorial Hall in Blyth, Ontario, until Sept. 4.
The Book of Esther
Written by Leanna Brodie
Directed by Leah Cherniak
Starring Maggie Blake, Nathan Carroll, Eric Coates, Marion Day and Brad Rudy
Blyth Memorial Hall, Aug. 4 to Sept. 4, 2010