LOVE’S QUIRKY FARMER: Anchors Mystery Thriller at Classic Theatre

Alastair Love plays the quirky farmer George in the spellbinding mystery thriller I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, which plays at the Classic Theatre Festival at 54 Beckwith Street East in Perth until September 10. (Photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

Following a star turn in the Classic Theatre Festival’s award-winning production of Arms and the Man, Toronto actor Alastair Love has returned to Perth to play the role of a mysterious farmer in the “comedy-thriller,” I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, the annual nail-biter that plays at the Festival’s mainstage until September 10 at 54 Beckwith Street East.

I’ll Be Back before Midnight, the most produced play in Canadian history, is an Alfred Hitchcock-styled psychological thriller about a young Toronto couple who leave the big city to get away from it all, only to encounter weird happenings in their rented spooky old country farmhouse. Penned by prolific Canadian writer Peter Colley, who also recently opened a new musical about the life of Terry Fox, Marathon of Hope, it combines the spine-tingling building of tension and quirky humour of a Hitchcock film.

Anyone who has ever appreciated the unexpected chill from listening to a ghost tale around the campfire will enjoy the compelling tale in which not everything is as it first seems. Questions immediately arise: who can be trusted as a friend, and have those you think you know best been putting on a game face while working behind your back to undermine your stability?

In the middle of it all is Love’s portrayal of George, a quirky fellow whose dime-store philosophies and mistrust of city slickers combine to create a curiously endearing character whose decisions will play a key role as the mystery builds to a stunning conclusion. For the gravelly-voiced Love, every moment on the stage is one he seizes with profound passion, a professional performer still inspired by his very first appearance on the stage as a six-year-old in a production of The Muffin Man.

“I always remember and get revisited every time I am on stage by that special feeling of connection in a special place with the other actors, and there’s really nothing else like it that I know of,” Love says. That connection with his fellow performers in Midnight – Lauren Horejda, Lindsay Robinson, and Chandel Gambles – creates a tight ensemble whose work has been applauded by sell-out houses as well as theatre reviewers alike.

Love originally hails from Sarnia, where his family helped found a major music theatre company that staged three large-scale musicals a year, often with casts of up to 80 community members. While he held down a day job in the area’s oil industry, his dream was always to pursue a professional acting career, and so after 15 years of 12-hour shifts, he took the bold step of moving to Toronto.

His former workmates were incredulous that he would give up the security of steady pay and a pension for a life in the theatre, but it’s what Love wanted more than anything. He recalls a “local boy does good” interview in which, from Toronto, he told his Sarnia hometown newspaper that working in the oil industry was like working in the mines, “which took people in young and spit them out old with a guaranteed retirement.”

Despite the challenges, Love says the journey has been worth it, especially when he can spend his summers in Perth, a town he loves for its community spirit and friendly welcome.

Tickets to see I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, a family-friendly show that has welcomed audience members aged 9 to 94, are available at ticketsplease.ca or 1-877-283-1283.

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