Pack of Lies

Hugh Whitemore

Performed February 2012
(February 7-11&14-18,2011)
at the Ron Maslin Playhouse
(10 performances: part of the regular season)

Directed by Bev Brooks


BARB Barbara Kobolak
BOB Martin Weeden
JULIE Laura Patriquin
HELEN Larraine Gorman
PETER Alain Chamsi
THELMA Lynda DeGuire
SALLY Lisa Wagner-Boisvert


Production Manager Helen Weeden
Stage Manager Betty Francis
Assistant Stage Manager Ann Marwood
Greg Winklemaier
Set Design Susan V. Phillips
Set Construction Gordon Walt
Construction Assistant Barry Caiger
Barry Fortey
Tony Francis
Jim Holmes
Brooke Keneford
Earl McLaughlin
Mark Stalter
Bill Williams
Set Painter Sean Behncke
Barbara Kobolak
Halia Osadca
Karoline Page
Susan V. Phillips
Gerry Thompson
Bill Williams
Sandy Wynne
Set Decor Susan V. Phillips
Helen Weeden
Lighting Design Steven Truelove
Lighting Assistant Paul Behncke
Sean Behncke
Mark Bujaki
Jim Holmes
Carol Hussey
Patrick Kay
Sound Design Robert Fairbairn
Sound Assistant Joan Patrick
Continuity Gwen Knight
Julia Lamperd
Gwendy Tolley
Ann Williams
Properties Dwayne Aylward
Dayna MacDonald
Karinn Smith (Tasia)
Properties Assistant Karinn Smith (Tasia)
Christine Walton
Furnishings Heather Walt
Helen Weeden
Costumes Marilyn Valiquette
Costumes Assistant Jackie Frigon
Brenda Parr
Dresser Sharon Argue
Mark Bazerman
Mary Holmes
Susan Monaghan
Christine Walton
Make-up Tania Carriere
Make-Up Assistant Bev Brooks
Kylie Delfino
Green Room Manager Clare Flockton
Green Room assistant Julie Clayton
Shelley Jean Harrison
Publicity Susan V. Phillips
House Manager Ashley Ritchie
Jim Ritchie
Joan Ritchie
Gabrielle Savoy
Refreshments coordinator Andrea Fajrajsl
Programme Wendy Wagner
Box Office Eufron Williams

I was drawn to Hugh Whitemore's play over fifteen years ago. It echoed an event I experienced during my first year in Canada while I taught English in an international language school in Ottawa. Many of my clients worked for foreign embassies. At the end of one course my husband and I received and accepted an invitation to dinner at the home of the then Third Secretary of the Soviet Embassy.

As politeness (and will) dictated, I reciprocated this invitation. Vladimir asked if I were certain, since he was usually followed, and such an act would attract attention for the Canadian Authorities. I responded, naively parhaps, that I had a right to invite whomever I wished to my home because Canada was a free country. He suggested that when he and his wife arrived, he should park in front of my car to mask the Soviet diplomatic plates. I thought he was being over-dramatic. They came to supper and we have an enjoyable evening.

A few days later, we were visited by two Canadian 'agents'. They explained that befriending a member of the Soviet Embassy put us in a unique situation which could be useful. They wanted us to nurture the 'friendship' and to relay any information we were told, to them.

They asked my husband about his occupation both here and in the UK and whether he had ever signed the Official Secrets Act (which he had). He could not go into detail about what he did in the UK because of that act, but he told them that it had involved developing infra-red detectors for heat-seeking missiles. The agent writing notes nearly fell off the sofa on hearing that.

I refused their request, saying I would rather end the friendship that use the friendship. And that, sadly, is what we had to do. The agents came by a few more times asking questions, alsways in a different car! I felt paranoid for weeks, believing I was being followed. It was an uncomfortable start to my new life in Canada.

It is not suprising that Pack of Lies interested me. It is a thought-provoking play which examines the themes of friendship versus patriotism, of loyalty and deception. It also considers how little power the ordinary man has to say 'no' when he wants to take a stand against state officialdom.

In the play, an ordinary family, the Jacksons, have to deal with state infiltration into their lives by a patronizing authority figure, Stewart. He uses them, but frustratingly will not disclose any information. They descend into a situation where the apparent deception and disloyalty they abhor in their friends, become exactly what they are required to do in the name of patriotism. As Barbara says, "We're all playing the same rotten game". And they hate themselves for it. Barbara especially wrestles with her impotence to argue abainst the imperative of patriotism and the moral angst she feels at betraying her closest friend. The events turn everyone involved into either liars or withholdrs of truth. There are no winners.

Lonsdale, Kroger and the other characters were fascinating to research on the Internet. The details, including the 'boiler' incident at the end of the play, and what happened to Ethel Rosenberg, are all documented. Today we hear of respected colonels being serial killers, locals being terrorists or paedophiles . . .

How well do you know your friends and neighbours?

P.S. I did bump into Vladimir in Zellers about a year later, just before the end of his term in Canada. We hugged warmly and cursed politics!