Jake’s Gift tours Maple Ridge

Story of a Canadian World War II veteran plays ACT on Feb. 26

Julia Mackey performs a scene from Jake’s Gift

Julia Mackey performs a scene from Jake’s Gift

Jake’s Gift is a surprisingly funny drama that tells the story of a Canadian Second World War veteran who reluctantly returns to Normandy, France, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

While revisiting the beach he landed on 60 years earlier, Jake encounters Isabelle, a precocious 10-year-old from the local village whose inquisitive nature and charm challenge the old soldier to confront some long-ignored ghosts – most notably, the war-time death of his eldest brother Chester, a once promising young musician.

In June 2004, Julia Mackey traveled to Normandy, France, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. During that eight-day journey, she interviewed dozens of Canadian, British and American veterans who had returned for the ceremonies. The stories they shared with Mackey and her own life-long interest in the Second World War inspired the development of the play. In August 2006, the first draft of Jake’s Gift received a workshop performance at the Sunset Theatre’s Exploration Series in Wells, B.C.

Juno Productions began touring Jake’s Gift in early 2007. Since that time the play, performed by Mackey and directed by her husband Dirk Van Stralen, has received critical acclaim at festivals and theatres across Canada.

The production received its first awards at The Victoria Fringe Festival in 2007 and 2008 for Best New Play, Best Drama, Best Solo Show and Best Female Performer. The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival awarded the production Best of Fest in 2008, and in 2009 Jake’s Gift was voted Best of Fest and sold out its entire run at The Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

• Jake’s Gift plays the ACT in Maple Ridge on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. For tickets, call  604-476-2787 or visit actmapleridge.org.