Tuesday, July 6, 2010



It is rare that one gets to see the perfect comedy and the perfect cast in action, on stage, and appearing to love very minute of their madcap ride through a classic Canadian script. I first saw David French’s Jitters in the seventies, when I was toddler (a twenty something toddler) and had such fond but vague memories of this riotous pay within a play about the adventures of a range of actors, at various stages in their careers, rehearsing a new Canadian play with the possibility of a Broadway production. The script is rife with references to the plight of even the most successful actors in this country who play the daily game of wondering if they will ever be able to move beyond the confining theatrical borders of a vast plot of land comprising a rather ‘small’ under populated nation. OHHHH Canada!!!!!! I could drink an icy keg of you!

The cast is impeccable. True to form, there is not a dull edge in the Soulpepper ensemble, showing audiences that English Canadian theatre has managed to indisputably prove itself within its own borders, and yet the struggle for international recognition remains a timely message.

Diane D’Aquila’s Jessica brings the strength, compassion and vigor needed for the role of a struggling diva that can lash out at her detractors as well as embrace fledgling neophyte thespians as they test their wings. All loveable divas, the actors playing actors playing stage managers and technicians in the show include Oliver Dennis’ wonderfully idiosyncratic Phil, Kevin Bundy’s sympathetic micro-managing George, C. David Johnson ‘s unruly, self-doubting Patrick, Jordan Pettle’s subtly fey and sexy stage managing Nick, Sarah Wilson’s sweetly sly Peggy, Abena Malika’s provocative and playful Susi, Noah Reid’s marvelous youthful male diva intent on a fabulous film career, and Mike Ross’s delightful comic take on the nerve shattered playwright watching his script take a roller coaster ride through the varied and demanding personalities of a group of somewhat terrified, frequently confident and colliding actors.

Ted Dykstra’s direction infuses this lengthy two intermisssion’ed, 2 and a half hour piece with an utterly engaging, breakneck, and lighthearted breeze that wafts through the theatre filling our hearts and minds with mostly comedy and lots of thought-provoking innuendo that makes us proud - and nervous - to be Canuckian.

Sets and costumes by Patrick Clark possess a fabulous 70’s Brady Bunch quality and the act two backstage environment reveals a number of subtly integrated tributes to past, present, and ongoing Canadian theatre luminaries such as Bill Glassco and Mallory Gilbert - scribbled on the walls of the ramshackle dressing room with the pivotal faulty lavatory door.

This is a must see this summer at Soulpepper. Jitters takes stereotypical Canadian identity and turns it on its head, revealing just how polite, loving, enraged, talented, and truly hilarious we can be when we find ourselves in yet another escapade of international import.

Jitters runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District until June 24th

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