It’s not every day you witness a plane crash.
But up a small hill, past a gazebo full of sweaty actors, and at the untouched fringe of the forest, there lies the mangled remains of a fuselage with a broken wing propped up against a tree.
The occupants have long dispersed. In fact, they don’t really exist, but are the figment of one man’s imagination, where nothing seems real and love is on the brain.
Cue The Twilight Zone theme music.
“I call it the Bermuda Triangle of love,” says Caravan’s artistic director Courtenay Dobbie.
The plane is just part of the latest summer production about to crash land at Spallumcheen’s gem in the rough, Caravan Farm Theatre.
Written by Caravan alumnus Peter Anderson at what is the theatre’s 35th anniversary, Head Over Heels starts with a plane crashing into a mysterious world that resembles a jungle gym straight from the pages of a Harry Potter novel.
“This is Peter’s 35th year with the company, so we thought this would be a perfect way to celebrate,” said Dobbie. “We wanted to do something fun and farcical. This has mistaken identity and wild antics and we needed a funny writer who handles comedy well and has a knowledge of the farm, so we thought we’ll get Peter to do it.”
The actual plane, salvaged from Westcan Aircraft Sales Ltd. at the Kamloops Airport, was previously used on the CBC-TV show Arctic Air, and here serves as the home of one of the characters in this fun tale.
Those characters include a cross dressing sibling and some strange loved-up people, but don’t worry, this a family show if there ever was one.
“It’s very loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, but it is not Shakespeare. It’s its own play entirely and not an adaptation. We stole from his playwriting prowess and raped and pillaged it,” laughed Dobbie, again reiterating the family aspect of the show.
“The comedy is good for the kids and there’s some humour for the adults. Peter has done a fantastic job.”
Head Over Heels follows Oola, the poor girl who lands in the aforementioned mysterious land. Thinking her twin brother, Oli, is dead she sets off to find her way and encounters a strange set of characters such as Harquevari, whose best friend, in true Caravan fashion, is a pack horse. (Enter Jason, one of the farm’s mighty Clydesdales.)
Harquevari explains that Oola has arrived in a land ruled by a grande dame named Levidia Swann – a tempestuous, hot-tempered woman.
To avoid confrontation with the jealous ruler, Oola follows Harquevari’s sage advice and dresses up like a boy. Unbeknownst to Oola, her twin brother also survived the plane crash and his arrival in this strange world creates hilarious confusion about who is whom.
“(Oola) has no idea where she is. It is like time has stopped still and the people she encounters live in their own private world with their own rules and laws,” said Dobbie, noting the play explores amour in all its many facets.
“All the characters have, at one time or another, crashed into this world where they discover love… Every character identifies themselves and goes on a journey of love.”
Acting out some of those amorous characters are some familiar faces to Caravan audiences, including Martin Julien (last seen in 2010’s Everyone) and Manon Beaudoin, who joins her A Midsummer Night’s Dream team from 2011, Mike Wasko, Jennifer Paterson (Oola) and Josh Drebit (Oli).
Returning from last year’s summer production is Christopher Hunt (Belle Forest), who played Julius Tallhammer in The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride, and Eleanor Holt (last year’s Mary Scrapes), who this time plays Harquevari.
New to Caravan are Toronto’s Hannah Miller (Levidia Swann) and Colin Doyle (Inkling).
“They are all comic geniuses and are gifted physically for comedy,” said Dobbie.
They need to be as they have to flit through the woods, traverse a suspended bridge, and climb up and down that aforementioned jungle gym designed and built by Marshall McMahen and Caravan’s tireless crew.
Dobbie is also multi-tasking. She is not only directing the production but has also written the show’s music numbers with her former writing/acting partner-in-crime Ajineen Sagal. (Some may remember the women’s Showdown of the Whiskey Girls, which premiered in the Enderby Drill Hall in 2006 and later toured around B.C.)
The music, performed by Kim White on guitar and banjo, Sarah May Redmond on accordion and Julie McIsaac on violin, has a folk-Gypsy feel to go along with the story, said Dobbie.
“It’s fun, bright and fast-paced with some beautiful ballads, but is also modern and poppy. People will remember the tunes.”
Head Over Heels previews at Caravan July 23 and 24 and runs nightly, except Mondays, July 25 to Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The farm is also offering pay-what-you-can, family and date nights with special rates.
For tickets and info. call or visit the Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.