A walk past a gravesite became the impetus for Alison Crosby’s new play, In Lieu of Flowers. Set to play at Neptune Theatre’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre in February, the premiere by the Cape Breton playwright is a dark yet comedic take on how different generations handle grief.
It’s kind of an exploration of how we deal with grief, how there’s no right way to do it and how everybody handles it differently. – playwright Alison Crosby
In Lieu of Flowers tells the story of Eddie, who struggles to navigate her world and relationships following the sudden death of her brother. When the memory of Erin begins to shift and distort, Eddie must face the question of what it means to hold onto someone after they’re gone.
“It’s kind of an exploration of how we deal with grief, how there’s no right way to do it and how everybody handles it differently,” says Crosby, who was also inspired by the idea that not everyone wants flowers when they’re dealing with a loss.
“I always find it interesting, because it seems like death and grief are the things people should have the most experience in, but it feels like we have the least idea how to navigate it,” she says.
As an inaugural participant, Crosby’s play was developed through Neptune Theatre’s INKubator Program, a program for emerging playwrights in Nova Scotia. A familiar face backstage at Neptune, working primarily as stage manager and technical theatre professional, Crosby’s play has been dramaturged, edited, and workshopped with professionals. It is an experience she has learned so much through.
“In many ways, Neptune has been my professional home, so to have the world premiere here on the Scotiabank Studio Stage is a thrill,” Crosby says. “The INKubator Program has been vital to getting this play ready for an audience, and I feel so fortunate to have been the first writer to go through the process. I sincerely hope that this program will continue for years, because it’s such an incredible tool to develop the voice of Atlantic Canadian theatre.”
Directed by 2022 Simonovitch Prize finalist Ann-Marie Kerr, in a mix of naturalism and magical realism, she says the Studio stage will reflect the aesthetic world within the themes and story of the play. Actors will not leave the stage, with action happening around the main staging, because “grief is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and this allows the audience to continue with each character’s journey.”
The cast includes Allister MacDonald, Breton Lalama, and Faly Mevamanana, and, making their Neptune debuts, Neptune Theatre School graduate Jessica Brown and Kristina Nicoll.
“I’m thrilled anytime I can come back to Neptune to play, create, and entertain,” says MacDonald. “This script finds balance between poignant and poetic explorations of the process of grief, with the authentic moments of joy and humour that happen when a family comes together to say goodbye.”
In Lieu of Flowers plays Neptune Theatre’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre on February 7-19. Visit neptunetheatre.com for tickets and information.