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Review: Half-Cracked: The Legend of Sugar Mary at Neptune 

click to enlarge Geneviève Steele and Sharleen Kalayil - STOO METZ
  • Geneviève Steele and Sharleen Kalayil
  • Stoo Metz

Half-Cracked: The Legend of Sugar Mary is the story of Sugar Mary (Geneviève Steele) a “half-cracked” woman living in rural Nova Scotia with her sister, Yewina (Sharleen Kalayil). Sugar Mary’s sexual awakening coincides with the arrival of Scott (Christian Murray), an American grad student looking for local folklore for his thesis. Steele and Kalayil command all of an audience’s attention: Steele’s performance as Sugar Mary is energetic and exciting, and Kalayil’s Yewina serves as a firm and reserved foil to her absurdity.

The standout work in this production is the set, designed by Garrett Barker and brought to life by sound designer June Zinck. The backdrops are painted like a Berenstain Bears book. Sound cues indicate interactions with the objects in the backdrop, woven together with the energetic performances of the actors (particularly Steele and Kalayil) and the use of classic sleight-of-hand to being objects from the background to the foreground. The stories Sugar Mary tells Scott appear in the top fifth of the backdrop panels, like scenes from a cathedral ceiling, creating an environment reflective of Sugar Mary's scattered brain.

A four-scene play, the modest-paced first scene begins to snowball into an avalanche of absurdity by the climax. Whenever I see a piece of theatre set in rural Nova Scotia, I wonder if it’s something my family in the Valley would enjoy. Mary-Colin Chisholm’s loving and honest script is sure to delight rural Nova Scotians and city slickers alike.

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