Grace (played by Gretchen Reveille) looks alarmed as Kemp (played by Richard Stroh) measures her for her coffin. They were taking part in Vigil, a dark comedy being put on in the art gallery in Dutch Lake Community Centre.

Clearwater theatre group puts on dark comedy

“Vigil” to run Nov. 15 to Dec. 2 in the art gallery at Dutch Lake Community Centre

By Keith McNeill

It appears that the residents of the upper North Thompson Valley no longer need to go to Kamloops to see polished drama and comedy.

In fact, people from Kamloops might want to consider coming here.

READ MORE: Seeking support for performing arts

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A good example is the upcoming performances of Vigil, a two-act play being put on by Upper Clearwater’s Richard Stroh and his Squidamisu Theatre, in association with Clearwater Theatre Collective and with support from North Thompson Arts Council.

Vigil is a provocative and touching dark comedy that tells the story of what happens when an extremely self-centered and shallow person shows up at a decrepit old house, ostensibly to attend to his old, dying aunt.

It is crafted brilliantly by playwright Morris Panych, a two-time Governor General Award winner for drama.

“I wanted to express why I feel it is important that everyone, from young adults to octogenarians, rush to see this play,” said Stroh.

“The subject matter of Vigil is visceral, heart-warming, funny, intelligent and incredibly honest. No punches are pulled and nothing is spoon-fed. The play addresses, aging, loneliness and our inevitable demise, discussing how the generation gap has left many seniors alone and forgotten – while being a passionate reminder that loneliness is not age-specific,” he said.

According to Stroh, the play addresses this condition in an atypical but very relatable fashion. Vigil also touches on family issues, abandonment and sexual identity.

It also (spoiler alert) tells the truth about Santa Claus, he said.

Vigil is being produced by Stroh and is under the direction of Stephen Raschke.

The play features Jean Nelson and Gretchen Reveille alternating in the role of Grace. Stroh takes on the role of Kemp. Cindy Raschke is stage manager.

“We intend to make this an intimate and unique evening by transforming the NTAC Gallery into a 30-seat theatre, complete with plush antique 1920’s art deco themed seats!” Stroh said.

Admission includes a complimentary beverage and homemade treat during intermission.

Vigil will run for three weeks – yes, 12 shows – from Nov. 15 to Dec. 2, Wednesday to Saturday only.

Tickets for the play can be obtained at the Dutch Lake Community Centre reception desk.


Director and stage manager Steve Raschke shows the series of switches he uses to control the lighting on the sets. The spotlights use too much power to use a regular light control panel, he explains. “I had to McGyver it together,” he said.

Richard Stroh as Kemp has a thoughtful moment.

Kemp (Richard Stroh) explains how he wants to help to Grace (Jean Nelson). The role of the aged aunt are being exchanged between Nelson and Gretchen Reveille on alternate nights.

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