Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Post-performance notes on an evening of song and light
Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre offers a program where certain of the plays they put on in the city circulate later at theatres in the suburbs. I've been a subscriber to this series in Surrey for several years, and last night's show was one of the best I have seen.
I'll admit, beyond knowing that the play had been written by Tomson Highway and that it was essentially a one-woman show, I knew almost nothing about The (Post)Mistress in advance.
The playwright's bio states that he grew up speaking Cree and Dene. So it wasn't too surprising to find the interplay of languages playing an important role in the script.
The main character, Marie-Louise Painchaud (indeed, that means 'hot bread'), who plays the all-knowing postmistress in a small Ontario town, spoke and sang in French, English and Cree. The French was easy enough for even me to understand, though English sub-titles appeared on a screen for both the Cree and the French. So yes, the show was wonderfully inclusive.
Beyond being inclusive, the message of the play was powerful. It probably sounds simplistic to say the focus of its themes was the importance of love, kindness and laughter, but that would be true.
The show seemed to be the quintessentially Canadian play -- from its use of language to its portrayal of life in a small town. How very appropriate for this, our country's 150th anniversary.
Marie-Louise was played by the remarkable Patricia Cano, who has a voice big enough to blast away anyone's winter blahs and a stage presence that nearly overfilled the theatre. She had all of us in gales of laughter and also drew us to tears (even hard-hearted moi, who rarely cries, even privately).
There are elements of the play that I can't give away; I can only encourage anyone who has the opportunity to see it to do so. Because truly, as the show ended, as I and the rest of the audience rose with applause, I could only feel that it had been an honour to be able to attend this amazing show.