Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Three very different plays currently running in repertory at Soulpepper offer up diverse theatre experiences ranging from corrupt real estate agents to war widows and faith healers. John Murrell’s classic Canadian drama Waiting For the Parade sports an all female cast that creates a superb ensemble of characters warring with themselves and each other as they try to support their men overseas. Led by Nancy Palk as the very stern no nonsense Margaret, all five women deliver superb performances. Palk’s performance never falters as she moves toward her dramatic resolution with great dignity and style. Krystin Pellerin, of current television fame (Republic of Doyle), gives a delightfully lighthearted performance tinged with sadness and indecision as Eve, while Deborah Drakeford’s Janet provides a strong organizational force that the others simultaneously follow and resist. Fiona Byrne’s Marta, as the lone German/Canadian citizen, stands out as a strong, resourceful woman struggling to fit into a decidedly hostile and war torn national landscape, while Michelle Monteith’s Catherine shines as the restless young bride finding it difficult to resist the opportunities that her temporary status as a single woman offers her. The whole cast shines in frequent musical moments, and Fiona Byrne’s German songs are beautifully rendered, heartfelt citations to Marta’s national origins. Murrell’s play examines Canada’s contribution to the second world war with a sharp eye for the material realities women had to face, and endures as Canadian classic after more than thirty years.

David Mamet’s Glengarry Ross is a fast paced all male narrative that is brought to life by a powerful ensemble led by Soulpepper Artistic Director Albert Schultz. His swaggering and sexy take on the character of Richard Roma is an impressive outpouring of run on dialogue that Shcultz peals off with great finesse. The rest of the cast is equally at ease with Mamet’s densely detailed script. Ken MacDonald’s set is particularly effective as it moves from a crowded Chinese restaurant, replete with chalkboard menu items and prices looming over the banquettes in act one, followed by a seamless movement into the real estate office that utilizes a similar décor in order to establish specific realtor data.

Perhaps the most unusual of the three plays currently running at Soulpepper is Brian Friel’s four-tiered monologic play for three actors. Stuart Hughes as the faith healer presents a believable, slightly sleazy, always energetic title character, with Brenda Robins as his altruistic paramour who takes on the second monologue of the evening with great physical endurance and passion. Diego Matamoros as the manager of this dubious form of ‘entertainment’ - faith healing - delivers an impeccable performance as he opens act two with Friels incredibly quirky monologue that ranges from the truly campy section on talking to pigeons and managing whippets and poodles, to profoundly disturbing sections regarding the relationship between Teddy (Hughes) and Grace (Robins). Ken MacDonald’s set is a beautiful sculptural mélange of piled chairs and wood slat walls that is pleasing at the outset but becomes a little static early into the proceedings. This dense, monologue ridden work could stand with a little more movement and energy in the set pieces in order to liberate the actors from a very heavy-handed text. Nevertheless, the strong performances, and the mystery narrative that unravels throughout, makes for an extremely intriguing evening of theatre.

all three plays are running in repertory at the Young Centre (Distillery District)

Faith Healer until June 4th

Glengarry Glen Ross -to June 5th

Waiting For the Parade - to May 29th

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