George Compton and Merry Hallsor rehearse a scene from Better Living

George Compton and Merry Hallsor rehearse a scene from Better Living

Dark comedy a favourite of Nanaimo play director

Nanaimo Theatre Group produces a George F. Walker play, opening Wednesday (May 23).

When Nanaimo Theatre Group decided to present George F. Walker’s Better Living, director Eleanor Blakeborough jumped at the chance.

She directed its sequel, Escape from Happiness, years earlier and counts the two plays as some of her favourites.

“You don’t direct a play unless you really love it,” Blakeborough said.

Better Living, which opens Wednesday (May 23), is about a family with an abusive husband and father who returns after a 10-year absence.

“They all coped in different ways,” Blakeborough said.

The husband, a former policeman, threatens his wife and her brother, who is also a priest, to tell the police about their plots to kill him.

In the meantime, the mother decides she needs an extra playroom for all the grandkids she will have, so she begins to dig up the basement.

“She only has one but she expects to have lots,” Blakeborough said.

What attracted her to the play was its use of humour with a creepiness and scariness throughout, Blakeborough said.

“It’s got a real mixture of comedy and very strange behaviour,” Blakeborough said. “There’s an underlying threat.”

Better Living is the fifth or sixth play Blakeborough directed for Nanaimo Theatre Group since joining in the late 1970s.

“I thought I would just work backstage – then came acting and directing,” Blakeborough said.

The play runs Wednesday to Saturday, May 23-June 9 at 8 p.m., with matinees set for May 27 and June 3 at 2 p.m. at the Bailey Studio on Rosstown Road.

Tickets $16-18. Please call 250-758-7224 or visit

Due to liquor laws, tickets will only be sold in advance and not available at the door.