Before getting into the usual wacky-zany-amateurish theatre stuff I seem to revel in, I feel the need for a moment of sobriety. Feel free to jump ahead a few paragraphs if that thought frightens you.
This morning I woke up to the sound of my radio alarm, and a news bulletin saying that a member of an Ottawa theatrical troupe was killed while biking in New Brunswick. Since I’ve gotten involved (at least peripherally) in the Ottawa theatre scene, I’ve met many, many troupe members in this town so this news woke me up in a hurry. Then they mentioned the name of the group…’Otesha’. I didn’t recognize it. but it still hit a bad chord. Some years ago, I received news that a dear friend of mine, on a trip to some improv games in Las Vegas she and her troupe were to participate in, was killed in a car crash. The news devastated me…as I’m sure it has devastated Andrew Wolf’s family and friends at Otesha. A car crash is a random, stupid, and all-too sudden way to lose someone. There’s really no way to make sense out of an event like this, and believe me, I’ve tried. All my good vibes go out to those affected by this tragedy, especially the other members of the Otesha Highlands and Islands tour that were hurt in the crash. Here’s a link to their website, where you can get more information on them if you like. And if you drive a car…well, could you just watch the road a little more closely? For me? I’d consider it a favour. Peace.
Right…</serious>. It’s safe now, you can look again…wacky old Visitor is back, and with new theatre to yammer ill-informedly about. And some big-time theatre to boot, the premiere show of the GCTC’s 2010/11 lineup, no less, Jennifer Tremblay’s THE LIST. An award winning French Canadian play in a new translation by one Shelley Tepperman, and directed by acting Artistic Director at GCTC Brian Quirt (who did last year’s sensational PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN). Heavy credentials, and Iwas excited about the stage concept I’d gotten a glimpse of weeks earlier at my volunter orientation. Hit the lobby eager for some playtime…spotted good old Wayne C in the crowd, also spectating for the festivities. And was amusingly/embarrassingly introduced to the legendary Kris Joseph (Airport Security, represent!) as he was videographing folks in the audience for the purpose of letting them make fools of themselves for posterity. I know I certainly did, and I’ll post the link to my duly recorded douchebaggery as soon as the fine Mr.J ups it to the intertubes. I suppose this at least makes good practice for my upcoming acting classes, even if it doesn’t make me fancy my chances. But then, failure is more funny, isn’t it?
The play let in only minutes before showtime, unusual for the GCTC but a clever twist based on the stage design. The audience is let in near the back of the stage and allowed to walk around it, seeing the set from all angles even as solo actress Tracey Ferencz stalked nervously about the sparse, gorgeous set, giving off a palpable aura of longing even before the lights went down. It’s the kind of stuff I live for in theatre. A good start indeed.
The show began softly as barefooted Tracey carefully puts on her slippers, puts away her cellphone, and explains calmly that she ‘didn’t lay a finger on her’…she didn’t kill her. And then, slowly, gracefully, the story behind those words is told. Tracey’s character seems cold and lost, having moved to a small country town to be alone with her husband, but only succeeding in simply being alone. She gets through her days by clinging to rituals, and her seemingly neverending lists…do laundry, buy milk, make vacinnation appointments, find Doctor’s number…
…wait, what was that last one? Enter Caroline, a cheery, round-faced mother of four down the way who befriends our heartsick heroine despite herself. They’re near opposites…Caroline is untidy and disorganized, optimistic and hopeful…it’s only through motherhood that the two manage to bond. for better or worse.
THE LIST is slow-paced pressure cooker of a play, quietly building steam until the loud POP near the end. A few beautiful musical interludes courtesy of songstress Sarah Hallman lend a really otherworldly quality to this otherwise utterly real piece, completely carried by some a-list acting courtesy of Tracey Ferencz. She never wavers from the uncomfortable truth of the central character, the great flaw in her design. It almost seems TOO low-key at times, the closest I could come to a complaint about this show. But then, my favourite movie is BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, so maybe my eye for subtlety has been somewhat diminished over the years.
At the end, I walked out of this show just a little off, a little shaken, and pretty happy about having been treated to that performance. If you’re a reader of this chud, you KNOW I love me a one-woman show. There’s still several weeks of this goodness left, so scoot your boot on over to the Oiving Greenboig theatre and do the right thing. And if you come on the 30th, yours truly wll be the tall volunteer who clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing (but looks good doing it)! See you at BLACKBIRD tomorrow nite (and hey…drive carefully, right?),