The Aeneid Sept.13th, ’16

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This is a shiny example of a play you either love or hate. So let me tell you why I don’t love it 😉

First of all: the cast was very good. Aeneas (Gareth Potter), Ascanius (Malakai Magassouba) and Hector (Mike Nadajewski) are doing a great job. I also liked the stage design, minimalist and dark, it lent an additional flair of depression and anxiety to the production.

But. What I didn’t realise beforehand but probably should have guessed: this was a total rewrite – and admittedly the logical way to deal with the ancient play in this day and age. So we have fugitives running from their burning homes in the face of a war they don’t want, to places where they’re not wanted, repeatedly giving up security and happiness for what they think is their right: land. Not A land, but land to rule over. Slowly everybody dies around Aeneas, (the princess being another fugitive who has a job, the trip into the underworld a drug addled nightmare, friend Ascanius prostituted out to the female rug dealer and finally as the last of his friends dying in the last desperate attempt to flee from yet another fugitive camp) until Aeneas, his young son and his new lover/wife find a place where they are allowed to stay, a land for them. Hope blossoms.

Unfortunately I had one feeling throughout the play: the irrational urge to scream: thank you, Canada, with your 20.000 fugitives, mostly families, for telling me, the European, overrun by approximately 2 millions of fugitives, mostly young men, that these people need help and support. Franco Canadian writer Olivier Kemeid (who apparently won prizes for this play) draws a bleeding heart picture, efficiently omitting the glaring problems European countries face under the onslaught of fugitives. Yes, I do want to help them, and I did/still do. Yes, nobody should have to run from his home. But to make fun of overwhelmed officials who are bound by laws is a cheap way of creating sympathies and in my case played not in the narrative’s favour. To leave out the problems of concerted attacks on female victims because they dress differently in the streets or -even worse- in public swimming areas, the fact that so many young men come without any passports because they are advised to burn them in order to conceal their origins and lastly the -luckily very few- men who come in the guise of fugitives but are in truth part of IS’ agents … all that makes for a poorly written one sided script that misses diversity as much as another angle of approach.

Mr Kemeid’s family apparently was forced to leave Cairo in 1952 and came to Canada. In his small autobiographical blurb in the programme he emphasises that they didn’t claim to be of a chosen people – an uncalled for slight against Judaism. He speaks of the Epic of the dispossessed and how Aeneas seeks a state, a country for his son, in which they can live , basically ruling out any form of adopting another peoples’ way of life. It is this kind of entitlement that is actually building walls between people. Walls that are enforced by an almost stubborn inability to at least learn the new language that some fugitives make their own. It would have been nice if these problems were addressed in the play, but that – seems to me – was to much to want from this script.

Fun facts: according to my wonderful host Joan, a couple of British guests left at intermission, calling the play “rubbish”. And even some of the actors themselves aren’t totally sold on it: at least one can’t wait till It’s done.

 

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A Winter’s Tale Jan.,’16

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This production got nominated 5times – outstanding male and female (McCamus and Peacock) costume design, play and direction – which of course was Graham Abbey. Damn, but that play was magical.

Brought to us on a teeny tiny stage in a small Torontonian theatre (sold out for the whole run) the audience was as close to the actors as humanly possible. In the cramped setting the story unfolds just like intended, a tale told to children, on a cold winter’s night, to lift your spirits and shorten the long and fearful dark hours.

Tom McCamus ‘ very distinctive voice captured the audience from the first moment on when we see a movie of happier days long gone, when his wife and son were still alive. The storyline was mercifully decluttered and made easier to follow without losing any of the great monologues nor one of the twists and turns that make the play unique. The terrific cast, “borrowed” from the Shakespeare festival in Stratford, breathed life into it and it was no real surprise that there were ppl patiently waiting in line for return tickets.

Personally I think I liked this version even better than the brilliant interpretation Kenneth Branagh brought to stage.his was more opulent, this one more intimate and thus even more heartfelt. But ultimately the two versions can’t really be compared.

I of course was really happy – stood in line when. Graham Abbey stopped by, he saw me, hugged and kissed me and left me with about 50 posting enviously at me. 🙂 Life is good!

Anything goes Feb.19th, ’16

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Anything goes… or rather : anything didn’t go – let me explain. Billy was totally miscast, too young for the part, and not enough volume to soar over the orchestra. His love interest was at least 10 years his senior. The theatre was not much more than a rehearsal stage and I still am miffed the ticket cost almost 200 dollar. I’m all for supporting the arts, but I don’t want to have to fear being kicked in the head by a kick line, just because I was brave enough to buy floor seats. I didn’t realise that the row was actually ON the stage as the stage was level with the audience.

The story isn’t new. Billy Crocker is an up and coming broker who fucks up a huge sale for his boss,because he saw debutant Hope, with whom he spent one night, board the ship his boss is on. He has to disguise himself, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Reno, actress and singer and in love with Billy. Soon they find out: Hope is on the ship to marry the earl. A gangster and his floozy are on board, disguised as a priest and his chaste companion. And Billy’s boss is half blind without his glasses, which moonface Martin therefore Nick’s. After a looong of disguises,switched identities, lots of fabulous Cole Porter music and a bit of soulsearching lovers come together. The earl discovers his wild side and marries Reno, Billy and Hope tie the not and his boss is a trillionaire because billy didn’t sell his stock and marries Hope’s mother. Moonface’s floozy gets a sailor or two, and moonface himself escapes from the police. Happy ends everywhere.

Everywhere?

There was a maybe 5 yr old child next to me who right at the beginning seemed to poop himself. It stank accordingly.  Back from the crapper the boy resumed to climb his mother. Lovely. Oh well.

Really good : moonface Martin , the Earl and the redhead Reno (real names escape me, I’ll supply them as soon as I’m home). So not a total loss but also not a win.