The fifteenth summer of Beth Weeks’s life is full of strange happenings: a classmate is mauled to death, children go missing on the nearby reserve, and an unseen predator pursues Beth. Not to mention Beth is becoming aware that there is darkness in her own home: her mother’s relationship with her father is not all it seems, and her own relationship with her father – who hasn’t been the same ever since the recent animal attack – is becoming dangerous. Beth must face the darkness within her own family as well as the dangers of the bush.
Set in Turtle Valley (near Kamloops, British Columbia) in the shadow of the Second World War, The Cure for Death by Lightning tells a dark, challenging story that includes sexual abuse, grief, and the day-to-day struggle for survival. It examines the relationship between reluctant neighbours: an Indigenous community and a settler community. While Beth’s mother retreats into her memories and her father becomes unhinged, Beth discovers unlikely allies from outside her once-insular circle – that is, from the reserve: a first friend, Nora, who shares Beth’s connection with the land; and farmhands Dennis and Filthy Billy (who struggles with Tourette syndrome).
The ordinary is depicted in painstaking detail – but something otherworldly is always lurking. Stunning moments of magic realism illuminate the shadows of stark farm life: a swarm of turtles that form a “moving, living blanket” as they cross Blood Road; a gale that whips the purple flowers from the flax field and rains them down in a blanket of blue – beautiful, but heart-breaking for the family, which had depended on the now-ruined crop. The numerous animals in the play are represented by puppets inspired by Aboriginal iconography, and Coyote (Sk’elep), the trickster figure of the Secwepemc peoples, looms large over the story. The land itself is a character; trees, the farm, and seasons play an enormous role in Beth’s social and sexual awakening and in the maturation of community relationships.
Cloran’s play is the stage adaptation of the award-winning novel by Gail Anderson-Dargatz.
Cast of three women and four men.