Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Rekindling memories and relearning language after a stroke are the paths to rebuilding a father/son relationship that has lain dormant for four decades. Ernie stepped out of his son’s life when his marriage failed, as his father did and as it now seems his son, George, is about to step out of his son’s life.

The thread and threat of history repeating itself lie beneath the surface of Rick Chafe’s well-crafted, semi-autobiographical drama depicting Ernie’s aphasia and his gradual recapture of the right (and wrong) words. It is also a tale of forgiveness, the rekindling of filial love and hope for the future.

The powerful material is given even greater punch through the first-class production directed by Ann Hodges.

As Ernie, Paul Rainville delivers a powerful and subtle transformation from the entrapment of physical and mental confinement after a massive stroke through rehabilitation and on to his new life.

As George, Michael Mancini delivers a splendid counterpoint to Rainville, demonstrating his own transformation from being stressed, angry and lacking in compassion to reaching out in forgiveness and love.

And Kate Hurman as Mae the speech therapist (and several other cameo roles) is warm, witty, funny and totally believable in all her incarnations.

Completing the picture is an effective and workable set by Karyn McCallum, effective lighting by Jock Munro and a quietly moving soundscape by Marc Desormeaux.

While some people might find aspects of the subject matter of The Secret Mask disturbing, this high quality production of a fine play is definitely a must-see.

The GCTC production of The Secret Mask continues at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre to September 30