Maritime Tale Comes
to Life in New Play

Persephone Productions presents Jerome of Sandy Cove

By Byron Toben

A true Canadian story has inspired a new play by Persephone Productions Artistic Director Christopher Moore in his first essay as a playwright.

The well-documented story is that of Jerome, a legless and mute man washed up on Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia in 1863. Until his death in 1912, he was passed with government or charitable subsidies, from family to family of caretakers, never speaking except for occasional grunts.

Mr Moore has marshalled a cast of young actors, many Persephone vets and/or John Abbott theatre grads, to portray 50 roles in his wide ranging speculations on where the mystery man, dubbed Jerome by the locals, came from as well as who he was, why he was amputated, and why he was unable or refusing to speak.

jerome of sandy cove persephone productions

From left to right, Angelo Vernucci, Zach Creatchman and Alex Goldrich

The whole of many scenes and set adjustments, is held together by the strumming and singing of maritime inspired songs of Sarah Segal-Lazar (quite a change of pace from her recent stellar role in Bad Jews at the Segal).

The key role of the mysterious Jerome is well handled by Zach Creatchman who had to get through two hours with his legs bent under him, covered by a blanket while in a wheelchair. I suppose this is part of suffering for art.

Over all, the acting was fine, as might be expected from Mr Moore, himself a fine actor who has played both Henry V and Hamlet.

The one problem, perhaps was the over ambitiousness of the speculations, which ranged from the US Civil War to pirates to disinherited royalty. The generally darkened stage, lit by many movable small lamps and the constant shuffling of wooden box/benches led to a confusion of which character was who, what, when.

The key role of the mysterious Jerome is well handled by Zach Creatchman who had to get through two hours with his legs bent under him, covered by a blanket while in a wheelchair.

A presentation by Shakespeare at Stratford, Ontario could, I am sure, do well with this play given their size and budget (hint, hint) but a strain on a small though mighty local troupe. A practical first play is Edward Albee’s Zoo Story… two characters, a bench, a book, a knife and voila! On the other hand, there is some merit in casting a wide net.

Some underlying concerns of the local maritime folk, largely Baptist, was whether the somewhat Mediterranean looking Jerome was perhaps Catholic, in which case he should be looked after by the French locals. Whichever community he was shunted about to, despite his often gruff manner, he seemed to get along with children. Obviously not suited for hopscotch, he becomes adept at throwing a ball into a pail.

jerome of sandy cove persephone productions

Zach Creatchman (left) and Ilana Zackon

Nova Scotia seems to be a place where local legends are inspiring plays. A few years ago, Paul Van Dyck, another local actor/director took another well-documented legend, that of a poltergeist which appeared to a real young bar maid in Amherst and created a well knit Halloween classic, Haunted.

Overall, the real Jerome of Sandy Cove, though not as cheery as the fictional Ann of Green Gables, is a Nova Scotia legend definitely worth seeing.

Jerome Of Sandy Cove continues at Mainline Theatre until October 16.

Tickets and information at 514 849-3378 or

Feature image: Zach Creatchman as Jerome
Images: courtesy of Persephone Productions

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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