As Nelson actor Carly Brandel was getting into her role as Stephanie Adams, an MS-stricken artist living in a wheelchair, she found it difficult to draw from her own experiences.
“The way I could identify with her is she’s an artist. I could draw from my own experiences of being an artist, and I could imagine what that would feel like to be put in her situation and develop that illness,” said Brandel, who is co-starring with Richard Rowberry in A Duet of One, playing at the Capitol on Halloween at 8:00.
“I was looking for an interesting, intimate drama to do because Nelson hasn’t had a real drama on the Capitol stage for years. Comedies, musicals, lots of cross-dressing, but no real drama,” said Rowberry.
“It’s a really good play. It’s about people, about important issues. The MS thing is world-shattering in itself, but it’s also about people trying to find balance and purpose in their lives.”
Rowberry plays a psychiatrist who is treating Adams, who was a young violin virtuoso before getting sick.
“The play is partly about ideas, but it’s mostly about emotion. Its about going through your difficulty to a place where you can find stability and a new purpose in life. She’s an artist who through her circumstances has lost so much, and it’s absolutely devastating for her. She’s having trouble coming to terms with it,” he said.
Rowberry and Brandel had a headstart on their working relationship, as they’ve appeared in shows together before. Recently Rowberry played Brandel’s father.
“It’s interesting, actually, because for this we’re playing characters at pretty much our exact ages. I’m in my late 60s, she’s early 30s. It works well.”
Rowberry said the play is emotionally wrenching at times, but there are also moments of levity and wit.
“Here’s an opportunity to see a play that’s talking about real people, real life, real difficulties. It’s got a lot of emotional punch, but you won’t come out thinking you’re going to jump out in front of a bus. It’s life-affirming.”
Brandel said she did research to learn more about MS for the role.
“I’ve never been super close to anybody who has developed this illness. One of my friends has it, but he’s not at quite the stage my character is. Researching it and knowing what does come, nobody knows how fast it’s going to take over or how long you can live, nobody knows much. So it’s really quite up in the air,” she said.
“It is an exploration of what they personally are going through, and they may identify with parts of the show or my character, or they may not. They may have a totally different outlook,” she said.
The play opens on Halloween, runs Nov. 1 and 2, and then again from Nov. 6 to 8. Tickets are $19 for adults, $13 for students, with $3 from each ticket sale going to the MS society.
Tickets are $19 for adults, $13 for students, with $3 from each ticket sale going to the MS society.
For more information visit capitoltheatre.bc.ca.