Undercurrents 2014 – RIDERGIRL

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More adventures in UNDERCURRENTS on a fine Saturday indeed!  Already did myself the very large favour of seeing Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning’s wonderful TASHME PROJECT, and now, after a spot of writing with miss Michelle, the sun was starting to go down, the tailgate party was getting underway, the jock jams started playing all throughout the Irving Greenberg, and beer and sausages were being readily consumed by theatre and football fans alike.  Yes, that’s right…it was game time.

I’d already had the pleasure of seeing Colleen Sutton’s delightful one woman show RIDERGIRL a couple of times in the past, and was more than happy to make it a triple play (sports pun!).  Drected by the great Jan Irwin, the play tells the engaging, occasionally awkward true story of Colleen’s journey from marching band prairie lass to Ottawa actress, with the ever present green and white shadow of those eternal underdogs (this year’s cup win notwithstanding), the Saskatchewan Rough Riders looming large over every moment.  Colleen is what you might call a fan, see…she loves her Riders like other people love their kids.  Amidst the ups and downs of her own life…failed relationships, career switches, and a steadily mounting avalanche of overdue bills…the joy she takes in those rare Rider wins are the one bright hope she clings to, and perhaps something any sports fan can relate to.  In fact, even us non-sporties all still likely have SOMEthing we follow and take hope in…in case anyone hasn’t noticed, I take a bit of an unhealthy interest in the world of theatre from time to time. 🙂

Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.
Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.

The lady Colleen is a dynamo on stage, and it’s hard to watch her and not become, if only for an hour, a bit of a Riders fan yourself.  Aside from herself, she brings a handful of other characters to life during the show, the highlight of which remains for me Sandra, her trash-talking mentor in the ways of Rider Nation.  Sandra is the source of lots of the plentiful laughs in this show, which help to nicely set us up for the darker moments that inevitably, and very beautifully fall.  All football trappings aside, RIDERGIRL at its heart is a story of a woman trying to find her way in the world on her own terms.  And heart is one thing this show is never, ever lacking.  Third time was indeed the charm for me, and you should probably get on this high-energy joyride of a show before its gone.  Go Riders!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

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