AMHERST – If Mark Twain was right, and humour really is tragedy plus time, then a lampooning of the Titanic disaster is well overdue.
Don Miller actually got a jump on the centennial of the sinking.
“(I) wrote it about 16 years ago,” said the playwright about Titantics, which hits the Tantramar Theatre stage – the last production at that location – on April 12.
The show was produced at Tantramar back when Miller wrote it.
“(It) went over very well.”
The first time the show ran, the set was a rusted ship at the bottom of the sea – more on the reason later – but this time around it’s a stately, sweeping white liner, courtesy of the set design vision of Jaczar, an architectural draftsman.
A second deck hovers over the audience. A life boat rests in the lobby. Portholes cover the wall. And the stage itself is the bow of the luxury liner.
The story is off-beat, which perhaps won’t surprise those who’ve followed the playwright’s work.
“Typical Donnie Miller humour…a little dark,” said Miller.
Seven ghosts from the Titanic are doomed to relive the sinking of the vessel every night for 100 years. One was the captain, five were first class passengers, and the last was in steerage.
“It is a comedy,” said the playwright. “I think it’s actually an interesting way to observe (the disaster).”
Miller opined on the endurance of the Titanic story.
“I think it’s just because of the grandness of the boat,” he said: an “unsinkable” statement of human ingenuity, even named Titanic.
It certainly has the elements of a Greek classic: human hubris brought low, or pride before the fall, perhaps.
“There’s something very sentimental about this whole thing,” said Miller. The last production at the theatre will be a showcase of what Tantramar does best, according to Miller – pairing veteran actors, such as Barb Bowes, with theatre newcomers.