I took a night off last night. I know, I know what you’re thinking! “But dear Visitor,” you say, “…if you’re not spending your time seeing or reviewing a bit of theatre, aren’t you essentially worthless? Really?”
Well, that may be true, imaginary (and kinda mean…ouch) reader, but even I need some rest now and then, and Winston the Cat needs snuggle time. We stayed in, ignored the rest of the world and watched Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. It was pretty sweet.
The downside being, I’m way behind now with this review! And I’m off to the next show in an hour and a half! No worries, eating is for the weak, everyone knows that. All this lad needs to keep himself going it some quality live theatre, and the double-helping I got a few days back should be enough to tide me over til Xmas. And by double, I mean I literally saw this show two times and two days in a row (one was my volunteer shift at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, for the preview showing), and then back again for opening night. And I can very honestly say not one moment of Marie Jones’ FLY ME TO THE MOON got stale on second viewing. I’m pretty sure I’d have no problem with a third…which is good, since I have another shift booked on the 18th.
Jones’ play, a Canadian Premiere, is the second show of hers to be seen in Ottawa in just a few months. Her STONES IN HIS POCKETS just wrapped up to deserved acclaim at the Gladstone, directed by 730 Productions founder and proud Irishman John P.Kelly. And John was wisely tapped to make his GCTC debut with MOON, making for a rather unique and highly entertaining extended double-bill. Like STONES, this show featured two actors, portraying the down on their luck working class Irish poor that Marie Jones seems so deucedly familiar with. Here we meet Frances and Loretta, played by the dead brilliant Mary Ellis and Margo MacDonald, a pair of hard-working homecare workers looking after 84-year old Davy McGee for a pittance. Each woman is scraping by day to day, trying to feed their families, dreaming of a Barcelona vacation that may as well be a trip to, well, the Moon. But then old Davy falls down and dies in the toilet, and a grim opportunity (involving his last uncashed pension check, and a winning race bet) presents itself. A series of events, each more ridiculous and convoluted than the last ensues, as the girls try to beat the odds, stave off the police, and collect…if not a fortune, at least enough for a nice outfit (which to them IS a fortune).
The play, taking place on a fabulous Sarah Waghorn set, is a wonderful mix of the madcap and the macabre, carried by Jones’ sharp script and two endearing and memorable performances. Mary Ellis’ Frances is a weary and sharp-tongued would-be schemer, bitter at a world that’s been trying to beat her down as long as she can remember. She’s filled with fire, tho, and drives a lot of the action along with gusto, all the while bragging about her ‘enterprising’ son Jason, hocking black market dvd’s. And Margo Mac’s adorably blonde Loretta is one of my fav’rit characters on stage this year, daffy and earnest and ever-so fretfully neurotic. Her constant asides about ‘our Brian’ this and ‘our Curtis’ that, her beloved but ever demanding clan waiting for her at home, are positive joys. These are probably the last two people you’d want to plan a caper with, and definitely two of the best people to watch doing exactly that. The show is heartwarming, hilarious and touching, often within moments of each other. And perhaps most importantly, it’s always honest. GCTC’s got a winner with this one, and I couldn’t think of a better show to catch back to back. All the Frank Sinatra didn’t hurt, neither. Take it away, Mister Chairman!
Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)