Prairie Nurse

A Canadian farce about love and identity set in a Prairie hospital. Two nurses arrive together from the Phillipines. The young lab technician falls in love with one of them, but does not know which one. Confusion ensues. And of course, all ends well.

Written by Marie Beath Badian and directed by Sue Miner, the cast included Catherine Fitch as head nurse Marie Anne Lussier, Janelle Hanna as Patsy Hackett, Layne Coleman as Charlie Govenlock, Mark Crawford as Dr Miles McGregor, and the lovestruck trio – Matt Shaw as Wilf Klassen and Isabel Kanaan as Penny and Belinda Corpuz as Puring (the one he really loves!)

This play originated at the Blyth Festival, and is worth the remount.  It won’t be a classic for the ages, but it is good for our times.

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The Rocky Horror Show

We have tickets to see this show in August, but could not resist a special offer to catch a preview.

It is a silly show, with almost no plot, but we were sure that Donna Feore would make something great out of it. If last evening’s audience was any guide, (and the woman in the theatre store said they were not a very rowdy crowd), this is going to be a smash hit! The audience loved it. They shouted, they danced and they waved lights! Big standing ovation at the end.  The only complaint I have is that the sound was so loud the dialogue got lost. That should be fixed by our next visit.

The cast were all terrific, but it is definitely Dan Chameroy’s show.

It is a vulgar show, so you may not want to bring your grandmother… wait I am a grandmother and I loved it. So don’t bring your grandchilren under the age of 12. Everyone else should get a ticket before it sells out.

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Betroffenheit

This dance-play Crystal Pite and Jonahtan Young was on its third appearance at Canadian Stage, Matthew Jocelyn, the outgoing artistic director of Canadian Stage introduced the performance, which was his very last as artistic director. He is clearly a fan and remained through the performance.

Betroffenheit means consternation or the disbelief one experiences in the face of tragedy. It starts with a man (Jonathan Young) in a room alone, talking to a disembodied voice. It is not clear who the voice is, but gradually it seems that it is a counsellor. Or maybe he is the counsellor?

Gradually other dancers appear and a wide variety of numbers including tap dancing are performed. The dancing is wonderful. Jermaine Spivey appears to be boneless, his movements are so fluid!

It is difficult to describe this play, so I will follow our friend Robert’s advice. He said “Don’t think about it. Just experience it.” He was right. it ended with a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation from a Sunday afternoon audience. Clearly lots of fans in the house enjoyed the experience.

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Love and Information

We picked this one because we have enjoyed other plays by Caryl Churchill – Cloud Nine, The Dinner Party.

Given those plays as a reference, it was not surprising to find this one had a very unusual structure. It consisted of a series of conversations among various cast members. The basic subject is love and how it is interpreted and misinterpreted, depending on what information is available.

I enjoyed the interactions, but did not find it a great play. Most of the cast were unknown to us, probably because most are recent grads from the York Fine Arts program. This was a co-production with York.

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Fun Home

If you are a fan of Sara Farb, Laura Condlin, Even Buliung or Cynthia Dale, go see this musical right away. And be prepared to become a fan of Sabryn Rock and Hannah Levinson. Be warned though that Hannah Levinson is only about 12 years old, so you will a fan of hers for a very long time!

The show is based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel that tells the story of her coming out to her family and her father’s suicide four months later. He, the supposed happy family man, teacher and funeral home operator is revealed as a homosexual. So just a typical story of family angst.

Hannah, Sara and Laura play Allison at three ages. The structure of the play is not linear, so all three actors are on and off stage throughout the play, which is a good thing, as you would not want any one of them to disappear for any length of time.  Cynthia Dale plays the mother, quiet and forbearing at first, but she finally erupts as her husband’s sexuality and philandering are acknowledged. Erupt is the best word to describe her action as she finally gets a chance to bring the mother to life. Evan Buliung is great as the father.

The songs are all good, but two in particular are standouts. Sara Farb belts out Changing my Major! And the three children do a terrific rendition of Come to the Fun House, their singing and dancing commercial for the family funeral home business.

All in all, I loved the show and so did the rest of the audience.

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The Drowsy Chaperone

After a series of very good, but depressing plays, we decided it was time for a comedy! Convenient,y, Drayton Entertainment was presenting The Drowsy Chaperone at the St Jacob’s Playhouse. We’ve never been to St Jacob’s , or at least for more than 38 years, ( we went to the Mennonite Quilt auction once) so the time was right.

Mike Nadajewski was his usual charming and funny self as Man in Chair. The rest of the cast were seasoned musical performers, including his wife, Glynnis Ranney, who was unrecognizable as Mrs Tottendale.

It was lots of fun and just what we needed.

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The Monument

What happens when a serial rapist and murderer is offered a chance to escape the death penalty, on condition that he must do everything his captor demands? This play, written by Colleen Wagener, directed by Jani Lauzon and starring Augusto Bitter as Stetko (the murderer) and Tamara Podemski as Mejra (the captor) examines this question, but more importantly questions about rape as a tool of war, the duty of a soldier to obey and the hopelessness of men who obey both because they see no option, and because they want to do so.

The play is short but very intense. Jani Lauzon has connected the play to the questions Canada is dealing with about missing and murdered aboriginal women. The staging is very effective. The use of the red dresses highlights the connection. I wondered how it would be staged in other countries like China, Rwanda, Germany and Romania where it has also been produced?

This is a challenging play, but a production well worth seeing.  The two lead actors were excellent. I was particularly impressed by Bitter, who managed to make a reprehensible likeable.

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