Laura Burke plays the role of Jelly

Laura Burke plays the role of Jelly

Emerald Pig in a ‘Fine balancing act’

Comedy and tragedy in The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls, which plays in Maple Ridge May 1-3, May 8-10

To get three strangers to bond like a truly dysfunctional family, Amy Starkey made them explore and analyze.

It took delving into their own families, a lot of asking “why?”

“We needed to find the characters and the relationships before we could go into the comedy of it,” says Starkey, who directs Emerald Pig Theatrical Society’s production of The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls.

“It had to come from a very authentic place before we could start throwing ourselves around the stage and going for the laughs.”

In The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls, we meet Jayne, a closeted corporate shark; Jojo, a perpetually broken hearted professor and Jelley, an eccentric artist with a penchant for boxes.

When their father dies and leaves strict instructions for a “wild party” of a funeral, the ensuing wild romp through the attic of their childhood home sees the Fine sisters do battle with themselves and each other, regressing, expressing and exploding, as they grasp and test the bonds of sisterhood.

Collectively written by Martha Ross, Aless Dufresne, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Jennifer Brewin, Alisa Palmer and Leah Cherniak, it’s a play described as a “remarkable balancing act of broad comedy and real drama.”

Starkey enjoyed that challenge, juggling the play’s serious themes with elements of Commedia dell’arte.

“It’s really going from one extreme to the other. That’s the beauty of theatre,” she says.

“I loved that it had these wonderful, physical moments of clownish comedy …which was woven into this wonderful, human story about three sisters dealing with the death of their final parent.”

It’s a play that’s also demanding for actors, who are tasked with transforming from adults to children at the snap of a finger.

“In one scene, we are playing ages six, twelve and nine,” says Lisa Dery, who plays Jayne. With their faces painted white, emotions pop on the faces of the actors in Emerald Pig’s production, each reactions stark.

“It’s an art of story telling. Even though there is real heart and meat to the people, we are not doing a naturalistic play.”

The physical comedy and transitions have been extremely fun for Dery.

“It’s zany and takes a lot of energy. We are all working on ways to warm ourselves up because it’s like being in an athletic event for an hour and a half.”

• The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls plays May 1-3, May 8-10 at the Hammond Community Centre. Tickets.