|Actors Joe Welton (left) and Brad Hull prepare to start digging for bodies in the garden in this scene from Christie in Love.|
"If you own a truck, you're in," joked Rob Mason-Brown, artistic director of Fred Skeleton Theatre Company.
The fact actor Brad Hull owned a truck became a bonus for this bare bones theatre company, but anyone familiar with Hull's talents knows it wasn't really the truck Mason-Brown was after. But it didn't hurt.
Hull, along with actors Joe Welton and Doug Brown, will perform the Howard Brenton play, Christie in Love.
Despite it's romantic sounding title, this play is anything but chick-flick themed.
"It's a play about society's fascination with the morbid details of serial killers," said Mason Brown, "and also a commentary about capital punishment."
Mason-Brown studied the play while taking his theatre degree at Trinity University in South Wales and has always wanted a chance to direct it.
"My professor, Dr. Jim McCarthy, was a massive fan of this play and we spent a whole semester on it so I know it like the back of my hand," he said.
"I've always wanted to do it but it's taken awhile to get to a situation where I felt we could do it properly and do it justice."
The role of John Reginald Christie is being played by Doug Brown. Brown proved his ability to handle tough roles when he took on the part of Othello with Shakespeare Kelowna a few years ago, and has made numerous appearances on the stage and screen both before and after going mad and killing himself in the Shakespeare classic.
Hull has been one seen on Kelowna stages in a multitude of rolls that stretch from Shakespeare Kelowna's pieces to becoming the lovable Tin Man in Kelowna Actors Studio's production of The Wizard of Oz. And anyone who saw him dancing in lederhosen during The Producers will also know he has the ability to completely throw himself into any role.
"A family moved into the apartment above him. The wife and child were discovered murdered, and her husband, Timothy Evans was convicted."
Evans was hanged before the truth finally surfaced that it had been Christie.
Done in a style known as Brechtian, Mason-Brown said the play will leave the audience unsettled.
"It challenges the audience and is more an ordeal than a fun 'sit back and enjoy' thing. You have to really think about what's going on and make your own judgments."
Hull warned that there is no easing into this show.
"The audience is going to be shocked by the beginning...there's no slow ramp into it, it just starts right up."
It also contains adult themes and adult language, but Mason-Brown said there's nothing worse than what you'd find at an R-rated film in the movie theatre.
The theme, however, has more to do with how society likes to imagine serial killers as being monsters, said Hull, "but in actual fact, once you strip away the mask, they're actually these weak, pathetic people who aren't quite all there."
Mason-Brown started Fred Skeleton Theatre Company in 2004 and put on the production Excessive Unwanted Growth, which ran two nights. While attendance was small, it was well-received by audience and critics alike, as was his follow up, a piece called All in the Timing.
This time around his timing wasn't quite right and as such, they play will be performed on two different nights in two different venues.
But he's not too worried about that - after all, one of his actors has a truck.
As for Welton, who just happens to be Mason-Brown's brother, he won Best Supporting Actor at the Ozone Festival last year for his part in Theatre Kelowna's play, Perfect Wedding. His last performance was crooning like Elvis in the TKS show Love on the Line. "This is about as far removed from that role as you can get," laughed Welton.
The script is based on true history. Mason-Brown said, between 1943 to 1953, seven women and one baby were known to be Christie's victims.
What: Christie in Love, produced by Fred Skeleton Theatre Company
When and Where: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at the Royal Anne Hotel and 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 at Alternator Gallery
Tickets: $10 at the door