‘The Unforgettables’ makes jump from Fringe stage to Live Five

(left to right) Erin Brophy, Emily Rempel, and Sammy Ramsay perform in the Live Five 'The Unforgettables' at The Refinery in Saskatoon, Sask. (Supplied / Photo by Drew Mantyka)

A locally-written, produced, and performed play has made the leap from the stages of the Saskatoon Fringe Festival to the Live Five line-up.

The Unforgettables, a co-production between Fight or Flight Theatre and Wonder City Collective, runs February 2 to 5 and 9 to 12 at The Refinery.

Written by local playwright and co-producer Erin Brophy (who also performs in the show), The Unforgettables follows the story of five women who worked painting watch face dials with radium paint following the First World War. After one of their friends dies, the women come to realize the previously unknown — or undisclosed — dangers of their job, and begin a battle for their rights as women in the workplace.

Drew Mantyka, the director and co-producer of the show, praised the cast of five “phenomenal” performers who have helped bring the story to life.

“Watching every moment where they support each other, make each other look better — it’s my favourite part,” he said.

Mantyka noted that the show can only “scratch the surface” of the historic legal battle these women faced, but believes they capture the story well with their strong ensemble.

The show first appeared on the Saskatoon Fringe Festival stage in the summer of 2021. While it was well-received at the time, Mantyka said taking it from one of the festival’s outdoor stages to the nearby theatre at The Refinery felt like a “natural step” forward for the show.

“The venues are so different – if we were to perform the way we did on the outdoor stage, it wouldn’t make a lot of logical sense in the much more intimate space of The Refinery,” he said.

Despite the success The Unforgettables enjoyed at the Fringe, changes have been made to the script to flesh out characters and events more fully. The Fringe sets some constraints on show length, so Mantyka — who also directed the show during The Fringe — said the show is now a bit longer and more “grown up” as they head into this next production.

“It is still The Unforgettables, it will feel like the same story,” Mantyka said. “It will feel like meeting an old friend after a couple of years apart.”

Mantyka said as he and Brophy continued working on the play following their debut at the Fringe — and now leading into their Live Five performance — they didn’t want to do a simple remount of the original. Instead, Brophy’s expanded script has given the cast room to grow and be creative in their roles.

Heading into the first performances, Mantyka said there’s still lots for an audience to take away from The Unforgettables, whether they’ve seen the first iteration at The Fringe or if this is their first time experiencing the stories of these women on the stage.

“I hope the audience doesn’t just think about how far we’ve come as a society, but also sees the very real, dark, and frustrating parallels that this story holds to what we’ve gone through as a society,” he said. “Even though we have made progress, there’s still so much more work to do.”

The Unforgettables runs February 2 to 5 and 9 to 12 at The Refinery. Tickets can be purchased online at ontheboards.ca.

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