Gananoque, ON, Sep 07, 2009 — Trudeau Stories is running in the Firehall at the 1000 Islands Playhouse in Gananoque through September 19. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
TRUDEAU STORIES, written and performed by Brooke Johnson, tells the story of her fifteen-year friendship with Pierre Trudeau, and it's fascinating stuff. To quote Miss Johnson, "Everything in the play is true, culled from journal entries in old notebooks and from scribblings on napkins, cardboard coasters and paper place-mats."
In 1985 as a student at the National Theatre School, Miss Johnson met Trudeau at a school dance. This meeting developed into a friendship that lasted until his death in 2000. In Miss Johnson's hands this narrative consisting of memories and letters becomes a true theatre piece. She certainly has the acting skill and charm to draw us into her story.
Lindsay Anne Black's minimal set of a single armchair and a box that functions as both a seat and a prop box is grounded on a beautifully painted floor. The lighting by Glenn Davidson is intricately atmospheric and even the mirror ball works.
Allyson McMackon's direction and staging focus the play. She's taken advantage of Miss Johnson's physical ability to make sure the piece never becomes static. Miss Johnson makes us see the two friends sliding down icy staircases on Mount Royal. The music choices add to the magic of seeing memories come alive.
Miss Johnson's unflagging energy through the 90 minute performance is extraordinary. She shows us the humor, quirkiness and intelligence that help us understand the foundation of this unlikely but deep friendship. It's a mesmerizing performance.
I hope Artistic Director Greg Wanless considers extending the Firehall season. The productions there are both entertaining and thought provoking - it would bring some sparkle to the dark days of January.
On a scale of one to five the Firehall Theatre production of TRUDEAU STORIES gets five dalmations. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.