Tempting Providence is based on the real story of Myra Grimsley. In the early 20th century, Myra left behind the apparent comfort of her native London, England, to seek a future in the remoteness and isolation of the rural communities of Newfoundland. Her settling there was far from smooth: As a newcomer, she had to face the challenges of earning the trust of local patients, travel huge distances between communities, and work hard to provide medical attention in a notoriously understaffed region – where, as a matter of fact, she was the only nurse to serve the medical attention demands. Her tasks included everything from removing teeth, to healing wounds, to assisting in baby deliveries.
Myra’s challenges were not only professional. Her overwhelming work schedule gave her little time to develop a personal life. Her focus on work grew heavy, to the extent that she almost lost her appetite in men, creating a family, and a future looking towards her retirement. This proved to be an extra challenge for Angus Bennett, a local fisherman whose heart was captivated by Myra’s personality and dedication, which included medical attention to members of his own family.
Tempting Providence is brought to Vancouver by the Theatre Newfoundland Labrador Production, and is directed by Jillian Keiley. The play is remarkable in the dynamism in which the story evolves: Helped by a remarkably smart use of scarce props, virtually no sound or visual effects, and no costume changes, the play flows uninterruptedly from beginning to end. This helps to keep the audience’s attention focused on the storyline at all times, which is enormously rich in content – the play runs for about 82 minutes, not including intermission.
The acting by Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Darryl Hopkins, Robert Wyatt Thorne, and Willow Kean is outstanding. Tempting Providence is running at the Gateway Theatre (6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond) until From February 2 to February 18, 2012.