Fish Eyes

Written, choreographed and performed by Anita Majumdar.

Rashomon in Port Moodie BC – three views of the same situation from teenaged girls points of view. Boys with Cars, Let me Borrow that Top and Fish Eyes are three stories connected by the slim thread of an incident involving the girl who likes the dumb popular guy, his girlfriend and another girl who observes and dances.

The angst of teenaged girls is universal, but this set of plays adds the extra stress of being a non white girl in a white community.

The author performer is very talented and holds the play together beautifully. Her on stage transformation from Indian girl to blonde valley girl is hilarious. The stress of being pushed to conform to the family’s culture while trying to fit in with the kids at school is common to many Canadian kids today. While I did not experience this particular stress or pressure, I could certainly identify with the pressure to conform. This is a universal story.

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1837: The Farmers’ Revolt

Written by Rick Salutin in 1973-74 with Theatre Passe Muraille, this production directed by Philip Akin is perhaps even more relevant now than it was then.

The cast of eight played so many parts that the individual credits are not listed, just the actors’ names: Ric Reid, Donna Belleville, Sherry Flett, Marla McLean, Cherissa Richards, Travis Seetoo and Jeremiah Sparks. Ric Reid should get a special mention for his portrayal of William Lyon Mackenzie.

This play gives us a different view of the history that would probably have been in the history books, if Canadian history had actually been taught in a way that was at all memorable. All I remember is the name William Lyon Mackenzie and the fact there was a rebellion, not why or anything else.

The introductory fashion show of famous Toronto leaders was fascinating and revealing. The rest of the story makes more sense in light of the concentration of power demonstrated in this small scene.

Great staging and a dramatic ending gave us a very positive ending to our week at the Shaw Festival.

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Wilde Tales

Described as stories for young and old by Oscar Wilde, adapted for the stage by Kate Hennig, this one hour event is hard to describe. Silly, amusing, stupid, dark, pompous and preachy all come to mind. Overall, it seemed like a waste of good acting talent. If there had been an intermission, I would have left then. As it was I had to stay to the end. The actors are not likely to list this one at the top of their bios.

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Me and My Girl

This musical got great reviews, had a great cast and the audience were having a great time. I fell asleep in the first act and went home at the intermission so I could rest in comfort.

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Androcles and the Lion

Theatre always requires the willing suspension of disbelief.  This production of Shaw’s diatribe on religion also requires a willing suspension of stuffy inhibitions. If you are not ready to laugh at over the top tom foolery, this is not the play for you. Helpful hint: if you don’t enjoy pantos, you won’t like this production.

Director Tim Carroll wants the audience involved in the play. So the Lion is recruited from the audience (thank you, Mina, for your enthusiastic role playing) and other members of the audience are given balls, to be used at will to interrupt the plot so cast members can tell personal stories or recite from the prologue. You also get instructions on when to cheer and jeer as part of the audience at the colloseum.

It all adds up to a fun afternoon, where you can ignore Shaw’s preachy lecture and just enjoy the gags. With a forty page play that has a hundred page prologue and a twenty page epilogue, how else can you stretch it out to fill the whole afternoon?

The cast seemed to be having lots of fun, which was a key to making the whole thing work.

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Saint Joan

We started the evening wondering if this production could equal the one we saw on NTL in The spring. We left the theatre agreeing that it was even better. The whole thing was like a perfect gem. The stage design and lighting were spectacular, but never overwhelmed the actors or the action.

The actors were wonderful with Sara Topham delivering a virtuoso performance as Joan. She was funny, earnest, strong, naive, charming, flirtatious and holy. Her journey as Joan was entirely believable. The men had no choice but to follow.

The men were also very strong. Tom McCamus as Warwick, Jim Mezon as The Inquisitor, Gray Powell as Dunois, Benedict Campbell as the Archbishop of Rheims, Allan Louis as Robert de Baudricourt, Wade Bogert O’Brien as the Dauphin …. the list goes on.

This is one of Shaw’s best plays and director Tim Carroll did a masterful job of presenting it.

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The Madness of King George

Tom McCamus gives a wonderful performance as the mad king, inspiring laughs and pity from beginning to end. You feel sorry for him as he is dressed in the many layers of ceremonial clothing, literally taking on the burden of state. You laugh when he refers to his wife (Chick Reid) as Mrs King and she calls him Mr King. You laugh at his mad antics and pity him as they get more severe and less controllable. You almost cry when the medical treatments turn into torture. And you laugh again when he reads King Lear with the Chancellor (Marci T. House) and Dr Willis (Patrick McManus) admits that he did not know what the play was about.

The cast were kept very busy changing parts and changing wigs as most played several roles. Jim Mezon was Fox  and Dr Baker, Andre Sills was Pitt and Dr Warren. Marci T. House had three roles, Thurlow, Dr Pepys and a footman.

The staging was complex to the point of needing a movement director. Two levels of seating on each side of the stage reduced the available space. House lighting remained on throughout the action, dimming only to signal the end of the act. This may reflect original practice, but it makes it harder to focus.

Overall, I thought it was a great production, with the usual very strong cast.

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