Witchboy Theatre will make its debut with a production of Brad Fraser’s Love and Human Remains. While a serial killer stalks the streets of a frigid Canadian city, a group of 20- and 30-somethings confront a series of surprising and violent situations in their search for mostly not-heterosexual love and sex. Combining elements of various genres — from horror to sitcom to melodrama — the play is so violent that Witchboy recruited a fight director, Robert Montcalm, to help orchestrate the mayhem.
When Fraser’s play premiered in 1989 at the Alberta Theatre Projects’ playRites Festival, under the name Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (Fraser has since changed the title to the simpler Love and Human Remains), it made such a splash that Time magazine named it one of the 10 best plays of the year.
Putting the cart rather charmingly before the horse, the idea to mount Fraser’s play preceded the formation of Witchboy Theatre. Co-founders Christopher Hayes and Breanna Dillon decided that Love and Human Remains meshed well with the talents of some of their theatre friends and acquaintances and established Witchboy in order to mount the production. “Primarily, we’re a group of actors who want to work together and do challenging things,” Hayes says.
Hayes’s character, David, identifies as gay, and Dillon plays a lesbian named Jerri. There are several other queer characters in the play, but most don’t identify that way. “One character, she has a relationship with a man, finds love with a woman, but then sabotages that,” Dillon says. “Another character, Kane, is young; he’s 17, so he doesn’t know [how he identifies] yet, but he strikes up a friendship with the main character, David, and we don’t really know what’ll happen with him.”
They wanted a challenge, and a challenge is what they got. There are seven actors onstage just about the entire time; to build momentum, the scenes change very quickly, and there are 15 or 16 different locations. “When people hear we’re doing this play, they always go on about how complicated it is, how fast it moves, and how hard it will be,” Dillon says. “We hope it’ll pay off and that people will appreciate it and want to know what’s next for Witchboy.”