Getting down to the wire over here at the Ottawa Theatre School…end of semester is looming, vocal masque fine-tuning is pretty much constant, and free time is at a premium. So I was pretty happy that I still managed to make it out to the Gladstone last night for opening night of one of their more recent additions to the 2013-14 season, and definitely one of the shortest runs.
A one-woman show (my fav’rit things in the whole world, by the by), MaryBeth Productions’ 8 WAYS MY MOTHER WAS CONCEIVED is created and performed by the dynamite Michaela di Cesare. Already having played to enthusiastic houses in Toronto, Montreal and New York, we got lucky enough to snag Michaela along her tour, and I’m pleased indeed we did. The show, directed by Tamara Brown, details Michaela’s life and times, growing up with doting but overbearing Mother Maria, who was a very special lady indeed. As her family lore had it, Maria was the result of a virgin birth, a somewhat unlikely messianic prospect that loomed over young Michaela’s young life (and especially her love life), until finally she had enough, and set out to disprove the magic of her Mother’s birth. This is not as easy as it sounds (to be honest, it actually sounds pretty hard to me), and family drama and world travel soon ensue.
8 WAYS is a potentially tricky show to execute, being fairly traditional in its 1-person autobiographical setup. One’s family misadventures are sometimes not as exciting to others as they might be to us, after all. But the show moves along at a solid pace, hardly lagging in a 75 minute runtime and with a completely engaging performance from the superfun di Cesare. The show features a sparse set of a chair, a window frame, and a clever assortment of shoes that assist Michaela in slipping in and out of a healthy mob of characters, from her own younger self, potential boyfriends, elderly grandparents, and Mother Maria herself. You’ll have your fav’rits…I personally favoured excitable l’il Michaela, but she also does an impressive turn as a Jersey-Shore-esque suitor that can’t help but entertain. It’s a really lovely and charming show, and especially one that very much speaks to women and the particular travails visited upon them in our time. Not that men can’t enjoy themselves, because I’ve been accused of being a man on one or two occasions, and I had myself a blast. But there’s some serious girl power on display on the Gladstone stage this week until the 23rd, and you might want to take the chance and try it out for yourself. In the meantime, it’s back to Masque prep for me! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)