University of Guelph presents Amaryllis - Written by Pascal Brullemans

University of Guelph presents Amaryllis - Written by Pascal Brullemans

Originally Published December 2022

By Liam Reynolds

In the early afternoon on the 16th of November, I made my way through the seemingly endless halls of the MacKinnon Building to see the dress rehearsal of Amaryllis, a play written by Pascal Brullemans and directed by Kim Mcleod. Pascal is a French-Canadian playwright currently living in Montreal. Beginning his career in 1994, his plays are rich and thoughtful, covering topics such as imagination, interpersonal relations, love, and choice. I highly recommend going to see a Brullemans production if you get the chance. 

Although the atmosphere inside the theatre was light, the play deals with heavy topics like the loss of a child, dysfunction, and reconciliation. As stated in the director’s notes: “[Amaryllis] asks questions about how we deal with difficult times, particularly when we feel stuck and unable to let go of our grief. It invites the audience to find moments of beauty as we wade through the ugliness. We are brought into Amaryllis’ world and see how a child makes sense of trauma and grief through play. Brullemans’ focus on a child’s journey, on how children view life from new angles, gives us a moment to reflect on how we process change.”

It was an honour receiving an invitation from the School of English and Theatre Studies and I was warmly greeted by the busy crew. As they tied the loose ends and crossed the t’s of this soon to be an impactful performance, the bustle of the dedicated stage crew was a welcome contrast to the hush seemingly present everywhere else on campus. Ushered in by the marvelous production coordinator, Bonnie Thomson, I got a swift round of introductions. Meeting the likes of Troy Hourie (a professor and seasoned expert in the fine arts and theatre scene), Ryan Alhers (assistant technical director and fine lad), Catherine Leis (a third year theatre studies major and adept front of house greeter), and Rianna Morgan (third year theatre studies and a very inviting house manager).

The quaint room that is the Arts Performance Theatre was aflare with cast members running around the elegantly designed wooden set. The director was directing, the tech crew was tech-ing, and I was sipping coffee (of course). As the caffein set in, so did my excitement. The five minute countdown began and the pace of everything heightened. Everyone was anxious to see the performance. The projector cast a warm and deep magenta coloured light onto the geometric set. The lights dimmed, and we were off.

While the last few people trickled in, the cast was already setting the tone. The Narrator, played by Rainbow Kester, and Fey, played by Sam Heath, were busy creating a small city street out of building blocks while Amaryllis, played by Meagan Downes, and the Dad, played by Dan Reader, were captivated by the falling of smooth stone pebbles into a fish tank at the front of the cryptic set. 

The play began with a round of introductions. The four actors and the sound performer all shared touching words about what the production meant to them and why they were grateful to be part of it. This was coupled with a beautiful land acknowledgment and statement of intent, as well as the sharing of an indigenous story about why the birch tree has slashes in its bark. The cast cultivated a warm and safe environment, it felt more like a dialogue than a play. The audience was lulled into a place where we felt ready to delve into the harsh reality of Amaryllis. 


Set in the modern world, the story follows the young Amaryllis (9 turning 10). A girl who is right in the middle of a great divide in her life. Her sister (Fey) has recently passed away. Her mom is aloof, traveling the world after the tragedy. Her Dad is mentally and emotionally absent, still deep in his own grief. Amaryllis is basically alone… except for her sister’s ghost. 

On Amaryllis’ tenth birthday she decides it’s time to set Fey’s ghost free. Fey is portrayed as a bright and bursting star, full of energy and positivity, a foil to the pessimism which brews inside her younger sister. It’s an emotional turbulence that’s relatable for many grieving people. 

Her plan ends up being a little more complicated than she intended. 


The play enters a different realm, The Land of the Dead. Hunted by its guardian, a death-bringing cerberus, Amaryllis and Fey trek across hostile terrain in a last ditch effort to free Fey’s spirit. Entangled with the chaos caused by Amaryllis essentially disappearing on her father, the fast-paced story does not keep you waiting for a moment.

Sudden shifts in light, coupled with a remarkable soundset by Mathew Ivanoff and Natasha Meredith, leave you feeling as though the set was a living, breathing thing. With the rushing of wind, the crackling of the leaves, the stirring in the air, and the growls of the cerberus. Not only was the performance brilliant, there was also a brilliant incorporation of audio-visual technology. 

The cast used live video feeds from camcorders used by the cast to heighten certain aspects of the show. My favourite example was how, during a brief encounter with the three headed dog, one of the cast members (who was out of sight) held a camera high above their head. That point of view was then projected onto the set, giving you a mock perspective from the cerberus and really bringing it to life. 


All in all, it was a truly exceptional performance. The full cast and crew is listed below along with links to the Amaryllis instagram and the School of English and Theatre Studies. Special thanks to Rianna for personally inviting the magazine to cover the show! If you get a chance, check out next semester's performance, I’m sure you won't be disappointed.

Instagram: @amaryllis_uogproduction






Rainbow Kester


Dan Reader


Meagan Downes


Sam Heath


Production Team


Kimberly McLeod


Troy Hourie

Assistant Director

Cassandra Friesen

Stage Manager

Piper Westlake

Assi. Stage Manager

Sophie Hughes


Chandra Menezes

Ella Odeh

House Management

Catherine Leis

Rianna Morgan


Chelsea Evason

Johnny Vag


Gemma Kraehling


Sophia Lavergne

Kate Meredith


Joe McBride

Simone Shaw


Matthew Ivanoff

Natasha Meredith

Production Coordinator

Bonnie Thomson

Assistant Technical Director

Ryan Ahlers

Stage Carpenter

Oren Bowes

Media & Lighting Coordinator

Linas Kairys

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