On Saturday I saw a play about a father who must consider what will happen to his disabled son when he can no longer care for him. I was uncomfortable, troubled and sad watching Kill Me Now at Winnipeg’s Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre. I was uncomfortable with the scene where the father helps his son masturbate. I was troubled by the father’s lack of concern about his teenager smoking marijuana, the aunt who regularly mixed drinking and driving and the separation of sex from love and/or commitment in a number of the relationships. I was saddened by the multiple tragedies that had been visited upon the family in the play and moved to tears at the end when a character chooses to end their own life.
Kill Me Now has been criticized for making the life of a family dealing with a disabled child seem way too troubling and terrible. Dea Birkett, the father of a disabled daughter writes a scathing review of the play in The Guardian. He list many stereotypes people have about families living with a disabled child and says Kill Me Now reinforces most of them. In response playwright Brad Fraser insists you can’t write a drama without conflict. He had to include lots of problems in order to have an engaging play. I’m thinking the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between the realities Birkett and Fraser posit.
Kill Me Now had me wondering how society could provide better support to families trying to meet the needs of their children who live with physical and mental challenges. It made me think about what kind of legislation and assistance might ease the pain of people who are considering difficult end of life decisions. The play forced me to reflect on what I would do if faced with the same dilemmas and tragedies as its’ characters.
Kill Me Now made me uncomfortable, troubled and sad but I’m really glad I saw it.
The Costumes Were Worth the Price of Admission
Getting to Know Richard II
It was a delight! We saw the musical Bittergirl at the Manitoba Theatre Centre on Saturday. The show was absolutely entertaining from start to finish. Great singing, familiar music, clever staging, a talented band, fast pacing and plenty of humour.
Bittergirl tells the story of three women who have been dumped by the men in their lives. They’ve all had long-term relationships they thought were stable. Then much to their shock and dismay one day their partners just walk out on them. How will they survive? Bittergirl follows the three women as they try to repair their broken hearts.
The show was great but I found out later it isn’t really an accurate reflection of hetrosexual relationship break ups because it is women and not men who initiate the end of relationships about 70 percent of the time. I also found out it is men and not women who suffer the most after a break up.
So maybe they need to make a musical called Bitterboy. I wonder if it would be as popular?
Childbirth and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Inspiration From Billy Elliot
Filed under People, Theatre
Our son is part of a group of performers who will be presenting a musical version of Richard II at Winnipeg’s Westend Cultural Centre this week called Am I Not King? I’ve been trying to learn something about the monarch at the heart of Shakespeare’s play. Here is the basic plot.
- Richard II is a young monarch very trendy and regal but he spends money rashly on Italian fashions and his friends, chooses poor people to advise him and raises taxes to fund his sometimes ill conceived military escapades.
- In need of cash he seizes the land of his dead uncle who was a really popular guy and this makes everyone mad.
- Henry of Bolingbroke is Richard’s cousin and should have inherited the land Richard confiscated. People really like Henry who Richard has sent into exile.
- While Richard is over in Ireland fighting a war cousin Henry gets an army together and invades England. Common folk and nobles alike rally around Henry and by the time Richard gets back from Ireland his cousin has taken over the country.
- Richard is imprisoned in a remote castle where an assassin who may or may not have been hired by King Henry kills Richard.
Here are five interesting things about the play.
- Richard II is the only play Shakespeare wrote completely in verse.
- In the play Richard’s wife Isabela is an adult but in reality she was a child bride who was married to Richard at age 6 in an attempt to create peace between England and France during the Hundred Years War. Also historians believe Richard starved to death in exile. He wasn’t murdered as Shakespeare depicts.
- The play was considered politically dangerous when it was written in the 1590s because at the time a group of rebellious nobles led by the Earl of Essex were attempting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth just as Henry overthrew his cousin Richard in the play.
- A famous quote from the play is…… I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
- I’ve found a novel for young readers called The Gentle Falcon which tells the story of Richard’s wife Isabella and downloaded it on my Kindle to read before I see the play
By the way you can get tickets to the play/musical here.
The Real Richard III
Henry V- Just About Perfect
She stood gravely at centre stage looking simply stunning in her creamy coronation gown surrounded by church officials attired in crimson robes and golden crowns.
I saw The Audience at the Manitoba Theatre Centre on Saturday night and the costumes stole the show as far as I’m concerned. The Audience chronicles decades worth of weekly meetings between the Queen and the British primeministers. The play is not a fast paced or intense drama but what kept me riveted during the show were the marvelous outfits worn by Fiona Reid who played the role of Queen Elizabeth.
Whether dressed in her Scottish tartan skirt and soft sweater, a gorgeous evening gown, a smart suit or a finely tailored dress the Queen always looked just about perfect- her hair coiffed, her jewelery tasteful, her shoes fashionable but serviceable and her handbags handsome. And what is even more amazing is how a trio of attendants managed to help the queen change her hairstyle, outfits and makeup in just moments either right on stage, discreetly tucked behind the queen’s desk or hidden momentarily behind a small dressing room partition.
Almost magically Fiona Reid would reappear dressed for a new scene that often took place during a period in history decades before or after the previous scene. The hasty transformations in style were really quite fascinating. I admit I don’t usually read the program notes about the costume designer but this time I certainly did. Christina Poddubuik was responsible for the costumes and sets for The Audience. I looked her up online and she is a partner in a design firm called Punch and Judy. It was neat checking out her unique work as an illustrator, stylist and artist. Although the costume designer doesn’t usually come on stage to take a bow at the end of a play I think Christina should have. I would have given her a standing ovation. As far as I’m concerned she was the star of the show.
Other posts about theatre…….
Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter
John Hirsch Place
I’ve seen another three plays at the Fringe all of them excellent! One made me cry. One made me laugh and one left me puzzled.
Ingrid Garner has adapted an autobiography written by her grandmother, an American teenager trapped in Berlin during World War II. It is a powerful and emotional story staged with appropriate slides in the background, complimentary sound effects and an emotional performance by Ingrid. Just a warning. Ingrid speaks very quickly so you have to be focused and attentive to catch everything, but the story is riveting enough to make that pretty easy. I attended with a friend whose aunt survived the horrors of war-torn Berlin during her teenage years and my friend found the play very poignant. I can whole heartedly recommend it.Penny Ashton is very funny and very talented as she plays a whole host of characters in her unique Jane Austen story Promise and Promiscuity. It contains many lines from Jane’s well- known works.
Penny Ashton is a funny woman
Penny sings original songs and she called up a man from the audience to dance in a lovely humorous scene. I am a Jane Austen fan. I have read most of her books, some more than once, and have watched movie versions of many of her stories. But I think you would enjoy this play even if you don’t know anything about Jane Austen.
Penny greets her fans after the show
The actors in renowned playwright Harold Pinter’s Old Times are superb!! The three are all consummate professionals and deliver a script that will leave you engaged but puzzled. What was REALLY going on? I did a little research when I got home but to my surprise there is no definitive answer even from literary critics and reviewers who all have their own idea about what exactly is transpiring in this play. Go and see it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Fringing Times Three
Jane Austen Overload
The Real Richard III
I enjoyed the excellent performance of Richard III by the Shakespeare in the Ruins company last night. This morning I decided to do a little research to review the historical events I had seen portrayed in the play. What I discovered is that Shakespeare’s Richard III isn’t really historical at all. Shakespeare was basically doing a smear job on Richard making him evil and unattractive when in fact historians and scientists tell us something quite different. A couple of years ago they discovered Richard III’s bones under a parking garage in Leicester and tests on his remains proved that while he did have scoliosis he was not short and not nearly as crippled by the disease as Shakespeare portrayed him and he did not have an emaciated arm. There is no actual proof he killed two young princes in order to take over the throne of England and most likely his wife Anne married him willingly and died of tuberculosis. In Shakespeare’s version Anne is forced to marry Richard and he poisons her.
Richard III as portrayed by an unknown artist in the late 16th century
Apparently in his short two-year reign Richard, who was a lover of literature, music, architecture and education made some progressive changes to the British legal system. A Richard III Society has been in operation since 1924 defending the legacy of the much maligned king. Since I wrote a blog post yesterday about Jane Austen I should add that she was ‘inclined to suppose King Richard III a very respectable man.’ Debbie Patterson does a great job of making King Richard a maniacal, manipulative and ultimately pitiful monarch in the Shakespeare in the Ruins production, but it’s just a little disconcerting to know that the real King Richard III probably wasn’t anything like that at all.
A Mid Summer Night’s Dream
Antony and Cleopatra and the Mosquitoes
Food From the Land and Shakespeare in the Ruins
Filed under History, Theatre
We saw BOOM at the Manitoba Theatre Centre on Monday night. It was a real trip down memory lane as we were whisked through the 1950s and 1960s by gifted solo performer Rick Miller.
Boom is short for Baby Boomer and Baby Boomers like us were definitely in the majority of the seats at the theatre. Using video, a clever set, props and many different voices the multi-talented Miller told the personal story of his family as he explored the cultural and historical events that shaped his parents’ childhood and young adulthood.
It reminded me of several blog posts I’ve done on my personal connection to those same decades. Check out Duck and Cover and Where Were You?
Many people think we live in turbulent and troubled times in 2016 but after seeing BOOM I’m wondering how we can believe the world is in any more turmoil today then it was in the 1950s and 1960s.
Inspiration from Billy Elliot