The stormy days last winter left David Penney housebound with hours to kill. Instead of sitting around, he settled in and wrote his first play.
"Things happen at a certain period of your life that you just don't expect," said Penney, who lives in Lunenburg. "I was sitting here on a January morning, and it was stormy and dark and I was by myself ... so I started to write this."
"Lomax" tells the story of Mr. Lomax, a criminal whose past has caught up with him, as he fools a group of locals into murdering an old enemy who is on his trail. Among those he deceives is Billy, a man suffering the early effects of Alzheimer's in silence.
"[Lomax] basically hatches the idea on the spot," said Penney. "Lomax is a criminal, and they can seek out and recognize when someone is on their last leg."
Penney has seen his fair share of criminals. He spent five years as a police officer before moving on to his current work in psychological care. The play combines experiences he has had in both professions.
"I was a policeman at one time and involved in some unfortunate situations where people were taken advantage of by some very devious, manipulative people," said Penney. "Those are things that never really leave you."
Joining Penney on stage are local actors Dan Jaworski, David Brumwell and Anne Stockdale, who have acting credits ranging from productions with the South Shore Players to working on the sets of "Mr. D" and "Haven."
Penney grew up in Ontario but says he identifies more as a Nova Scotian. He had always been interested in theatre but never got involved until friends convinced him to take a small role years ago in "Inherit the Wind."
"It was one of those situations where friends of mine said, 'Is there any chance you'd just be a juror? No lines. You can just sit there,'" said Penney. "Well, I wound up playing four parts."
He said these situations come up a lot in Lunenburg. Simply being part of a small community can create opportunities one wouldn't normally have.
"You're at the Save Easy, waiting to pay for your bologna, and somebody taps you on the shoulder and says, 'Is there any chance you'd help us out with that?' And you go, 'Yeah, OK, whatever.'"
The play is made possible by the support of the Rotary Club of Lunenburg and it will be staged every Sunday in July in hopes of keeping activity in the town on a day many businesses are closed.
Penney said he sees a lot of similarities between Lunenburg and Niagara-on-the-Lake, his former home.
"I watched Niagara-on-the-Lake blossom as a result of the arts. Like this town, it's a working town, but the arts took hold," said Penney. "Lunenburg is going through a kind of renaissance. Buildings are being painted, we've got three or four upscale restaurants being supported and staying open. It's really exciting for me personally."
Writing the play was a cathartic experience for Penney. He's had to deal with dangerous situations in the past, but this is the first time he's been in control of the outcome.
"Years ago as a policeman, you'd know that somebody has been taken advantage of, you know there's been manipulation, but you can't do anything about it because you can't prove it," said Penney. "But you're a human being, you know? [That's a] frustrating and gut-wrenching experience."
The first performance is 7:30 p.m Sunday, July 5, at the St. John's Anglican Parish Hall. Tickets are $20.