Scorpio Theatre is marking a milestone with Blood of the Red Queen: Citizen Smee. “This is our 50th play,” says playwright Dan Gibbins, who also wrote the company’s first play and has been with Scorpio since its inception. Scorpio, the community theatre company that prides itself on being “theatre for people who don’t like theatre,” was founded in 2000, and has made a name for itself with shows like Cry Havoc and a Doctor Who tribute show, Who Knows.
For Citizen Smee, a sequel to Scorpio’s first Blood of the Red Queen play, Gibbins revisits a specific cultural niche: a neo-noir take on classic literary characters including Alice (of Alice in Wonderland), Peter Pan, and Jim Hawkins (of Treasure Island). “The origins go back to 2012,” Gibbins says. “I’d just directed this super-dark version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and I came out of it thinking: how would that experience affect Alice? Or how would Oz affect Dorothy? Or Neverland affect Wendy? What if we put them all in ’40s Los Angeles, and also there was a murder?”
That mashup of ideas is part of the mentality director Chelsea Millard credits for Scorpio’s longevity and success. “Scorpio has found the formula to bring in an audience that wouldn’t necessarily come to see a musical or a Shakespeare show,” Millard says.
Gibbins wears the company’s geek roots with pride. “We’ve had a good partnership with the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo,” Gibbins says.
Millard is especially excited for audiences to see how she and Gibbins take familiar characters in new directions. “It is a twist, but when you take a step back, the twists make sense,” she says.
Blood of the Red Queen: Citizen Smee is playing Feb. 22–March 2 at the Pumphouse Theatre. For more information visit www.scorpio.caBlood of the Red Queen, Citizen Smee, Pumphouse Theatre