Theatre Erindale explores the unseen War of 1812

But what of the women left behind when their men went off to war?
The spotlight falls firmly on them in Theatre Erindale’s latest production, In The Midst Of Alarms: The Untold Story Of Women And The War Of 1812.
The play is loosely based on Dianne Graves’ landmark book by the same name, which chronicled the wartime experiences of women in all walks of life on both sides of the battle lines.
But if you are expecting sombre tales of heroism and sacrifice, you can think again. The all-student theatre company has given a somewhat irreverent spin to this chapter of history.
“It’s not paying homage to the war itself,” said director Ralph Small. “If anything, we are sticking a big fat tongue in cheek with it.”
The sweep of Graves’ 500-page tome was too great to translate directly to the stage as a straight narrative, so instead the company has presented a collage of scenes inspired by events in the book. And they certainly focus on the more interesting parts. Audiences will find out exactly what society lady Alicia Cockburn got up to in her “salons” when her officer husband was away fighting the Americans, while the legend of Louisa Baker (a.k.a. Lucy Brewer), supposedly the first woman in the U.S. Marines, also gets an airing — including with her past as a prostitute.
In full “bringing history to life” mode, the company has deployed an arsenal of lighting effects and digital projections to add dramatic flair to the events on stage. Throw in a few song and dance numbers — and even a puppet show — and you’ve got a side of the War of 1812 that they never told you about in school.
In The Midst Of Alarms runs tomorrow through Saturday and Nov. 22-25 at Erindale Studio Theatre.
Tickets are $10-$15. Call 905-569-4369.

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