So she didn’t even know it I’ll bet, but Miss Emily Pearlman recently gave me what will certainly be my bestest Birthday present this year, when she contacted me and invited me to be a guest at her new show with Mi Casa Theatre. And okay, okay, I actually went on the day BEFORE my birthday, but trust me when I say I’ll still be thinking merrily and smiling about this show well into my next year.
Taking place at the lovely NECTAR Centre, tucked away in one of the nicer parts of New Edinburgh, the show that Emily wrote and directed (with a co-directing assist from Mado Manseau) is COLLAPSIBLE, described quite intriguingly in the program as an ‘intergenerational collective’. And since when Mi Casa is involved, imagination is usually cranked to 11 anyways, I couldn’t hardly wait. When I arrived at the centre, me and my fellow patrons were invited to either hang out in the main room, where we could get our dilemmas filed (can’t get your dilemma solved until its been filed, people!), or some friendly guides would bring us down to the secret lair, where we could check out some sweet inventions, look at a scale map of the valley (shaped most curiously like a Bundt cake pan), or experience first hand what it was like during the great flood. Did I mention the flood?
In the hyper-surreal world of COLLAPSIBLE, the mountain valley in which the action takes place has been engulfed by flash flooding, and only the revered Great-Grandfather (a splendidly bearded Andy Massingham), living in his juice-filled home at the very peak, is safe. The rest of the villagers make a regular pilgrimage up to his home, because only he has the power to make decisions in the valley, and he has strict rules concerning that process, you’d better believe. Enter Tub and Table (Sarah McVie and Katie Swift), two women not seen since the first day of the flood. They suddenly return, the subject of much myth and rumour, and carrying an object of indescribable importance. They desperately need Grandfather to decide something for them, but first they have to convince the townspeople that they didn’t start the flood. And that, my friends, is a long story…
Taking place in just about every nook and cranny of the little house that is the Nectar Centre and told with lights, models, and every trick in the book, this show is just about a minor miracle for even existing. They say never work with kids, but MiCasa has gone ahead and worked with about a gajillion of them, and each one of them is such a wonderful natural actor that they put my student butt to shame. At school, Andy Massingham often tells us we need to get in touch with our inner child, and watching them mastering the art of play in this show, it’s easy to see why. The honesty they bring without even trying is such an amazing little gift, and I’ll list all the names in the program here even though I don’t think this entire gang appeared in tonight’s performance. Still, huge shoutouts to Adrianna Tounkara, Alice Torrie, Cason Burke, Charlotte Legault, Clara White, Colby Burke, Danan Burke, Louisa Legault, Madeline Meechan, Sarah Schonfeld and Zoie Davis-Meyer. Ya done good, and made the special show even more specialer. The grown-ups are all right too…Professor Massingham is always a joy to watch at work/play, and Sarah McVie I haven’t caught since the hilarious PUBLIC SERVANT at Undercurrents. Also so very delighted to see miz Katie Swift back under Emily’s direction (it happened last in Evolution Theatre’s HROSES and that was a wondrous thing)
Several of the kids act as our guides, shuttling patrons from one floor to the next (the group splits up and experiences different parts of the show at different times), either watching McVie and Swift telling their harrowing tale of survival, or gleaning the secret truths about Great-Grandfathers’ decision making process. And really, I’m being as vague as I can about this show because you need to see it for yourself, and for a relatively short piece (around 80 minutes), there’s enough going on to fill any 3 plays. It’s one to gush about, learn from, marvel at and revel in. Stuff like this comes along once in a long, long while. Ignore the cold strap on your skates, and head on over before it’s too late!! Just a short hop from the Clocktower on Mckay, so no excuses. And thanks for the present, Miss Emily (cake even!), I definitely owe you one. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)