By Ron VandenBoom
Its emotionally powerful, its cerebral, and its a first for Havre audiences.
The Dead of Winter is an original production of the Montana Actors Theatre that will be presented to Havre audiences for the first time Thursday, June 17-19, at 8 p.m. in the Havre High School Theatre.
The play contains adult themes and language and may not be suitable to all audiences.
The cost will be $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens.
The play was written by Havre actor/director Jay Pyette, who in addition to writing the play also portrays Will Jacobs, a successful and well respected contractor in small town America.
His daughter Abby, played by Stacy Williams, befriends a newcomer to the small town, Rob Hendricks, played by Grant Olson.
Hendricks has a dark, disturbing secret that tarnished his past and haunts him in the present. Hendricks was a convict and served time in prison for child molestation.
Hendricks has been cured of his condition and having served his time, he now wants to reenter society, forget the past, and be productive. But hes haunted by his demons and the need to keep hidden his dubious past.
When the town finally learns of Hendrickss past a host of views and emotions boil to the surface and strike the nerves of the community and the audience alike.
The play asks the question: Can we, as human beings, accept flaws in others, even if those flaws threaten our own sensibilities?
This play will challenge an audience to look at themselves and try to judge their own reactions, Pyette said. While this play may not please all, its comments on our society cannot be dismissed.
The somewhat disturbing plot and the contemporary issues raised by the play present a challenge to Pyettes cast of actors and might also challenge the audience.
It raises a lot of issues and questions and not all of them are answerable, Pyette explained. Its designed to stir up emotions, its not designed to stir up controversy.
He describes the play as both cerebral and emotional a play that will make one think.
Olson describes his part as the newcomer as one of the hardest he has ever had to relate to.
Hes a reformed child molester, Olson said, But the thing is, thats not what drives the whole character.
But does Williams have an easier time relating to her part as Hendrickss friend?
Yes and no, she said, because Ive never had to deal with someone thats in this situation, but its easy for me to deal with it. The fact that youve had to befriend somebody thats not a part of the group, of the norm.
Olson and Williams said they feel the play and their characters are both a challenge that they enjoy trying to meet.
Brian Jenkins plays the part of Kelly Palen, the suspicious and somewhat jealous boyfriend of Abby. He finds it easy to identify with his character.
Its a character that is very protective, so its really easy to relate to how he would feel, Jenkins said.
Jenkins describes the plays effect on the audience as presenting a sense of awakening and shock. I dont think a play of this sort has ever been performed here. Its going to be a change for them.
The disturbing nature of the play and some strong language in the play have prompted Pyette to warn parents that this is not a play for children and he discourages parents from bringing younger viewers.
Were leaving it up to parent discretion, Pyette said, but its not really suitable for children. Theres some pretty tough language involved and of course the content itself is disturbing.