Yesterday I saw the matinee performance of the current Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre production The Rez Sisters by playwright Tomson Highway. Here are five things I liked about it.
1. I thought the set was absolutely stunning. That round orange circle in the back with a prairie grass image in it became a place to showcase various actors and scenes. In one scene a woman hangs her wash on a line strung across the circle. In another, the trickster spirit Nanabush does a haunting silhouetted dance in the circle and in still another, the circle fills with stars to escort a character into the next life.
2. The cast of seven main female characters each had such interesting and unique personalities. Whether it was a sense of humour, a palpable vulnerability, an optimistic attitude, a busy- body nature, an appreciation for the little things in life, a quick temper or an acceptance of the inevitable, each woman stood out from the rest and endeared herself to the audience in a different way.
3. My favourite scene was when the women are participating in various fundraising activities to earn money to make a trip to Toronto to play the biggest bingo game in the world. They did a highly choreographed sequence of activities that reminded me of an intricate dance as they made items for bake sales, babysat, took in laundry, carried out a bottle drive, did home repairs, washed windows, picked and sold blueberries and performed music in order to earn the funds they needed. It must have taken endless hours of practice to get that scene to flow so effortlessly and engagingly.
4. I really liked the props in the play too. They weren’t real and many were two dimensional. They were so artistically created out of cardboard and other materials. I’d love to learn more about how they were designed and made.
5. I liked the way we slowly found out about each woman’s unique personal back story as the play proceeded. Each story was unbearably sad but learning about their pasts helped us to understand each woman better in the present and empathize with her.
I really enjoyed The Rez Sisters as did the friend who attended the performance with me.