I don’t know what it is about today, January 20th 2017, but I have a strong urge to write a blogpost about a world leader with a surname beginning in TRU. Someone charismatic, and known for speaking his mind. A real divisive figure, ya know? And I’m not talking about Justin Trudeau, neither. I’m talking about TRUDEAU. As in Pierre Elliot, the ultimate PM…yeah, no, I wouldn’t waste your precious time talking about that monster down south. You got enough of that on Twitter today (and every day, really).
Fortunate Son that I am, I got a chance to check out the latest at the GCTC, Brooke Johnson’s autobiographical one-woman storytelling epic TRUDEAU STORIES. The stage was sparsely set as I walked in, just a small box set beside a terrifically comfy looking chair. I thought for a moment Jim Jefferies was about to stroll out and do a set
But of course, tonight belonged to the great Brooke Johnson, who took to the stage with a smile and started telling her story through memory, letters, and a very special piece of audio, of her unlikely friendship with the man himself, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Beginning with a chance encounter during her time at the National Theatre School in Montreal back in the 80’s, including an awkward dance in ill-fitting shoes, the show goes on to detail the extraordinary platonic bond that developed between a budding actor and our national enigma, both a playful and sombre figure in this recollection as his legendary head occasionally weighs heavy under the burden of his phantom crown. He may have stopped being PM, after all, but he could never stop being Trudeau.
Not that Brooke Johnson herself isn’t a force in the show…her easy warmth and charm brings the audience in to her story before they even know they’ve been trapped in her storytelling spell. Together with some beautiful direction from Allyson McMackon, the story of not only Brooke and Trudeau, but their odd relationship and his place in the Canadian identity creeps off the stage and into a warm, fuzzy place in the audience’s hearts. The show ends with an appropriate ‘remember where you were’ moment, as the struggle of maintaining so private a friendship with so public a figure comes to its inevitable, emotional conclusion. It’s a satisfying, heartwarming, funny and terribly Canadian piece of work and it made me awful happy to see it. It might even be enough to make you love Justin again. Peace, love and soul,