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Photo: Peter Puna
Photo: Peter Puna

"Blood on the Moon" at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

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Blood on the Moon is running at GCTC in Ottawa through February 5. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng has this commentary.

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Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

Since the weather this winter has been remarkably un-cooperative in allowing me to get to Ottawa for openings and reviews, I wanted to tell you a little about BLOOD ON THE MOON, currently running at GCTC. Written and performed by Pierre Brault and directed by John Koensgen, I saw the play almost twelve years ago at the NAC in its initial production. Since that time Mr. Brault has performed the piece over 300 times across Canada and in Ireland.

BLOOD ON THE MOON tells the story of the trial of James Patrick Whelan, who was accused of the assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee in April 1868. McGee was one of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation, and his murder occurred less than a year after the establishment of the Dominion of Canada. Although it’s fairly obvious that the trial was more a railroading than a true trial, we’re left not being sure whether or not Whelan was the true culprit.

My memories of the play are still somewhat intact especially those of Martin Conboy’s excellent lighting and the always effective music of Marc Desormeaux. As for Mr. Brault himself, I’ll quote from my original review.

“Pierre Brault, the lone actor, is a very appealing man with a double handful of charm. He’s written himself a wonderful line near the beginning of the piece – “Public executions don’t bring out the crowds like they used to!” He’s also written quite a tour de force. His excellent vocal and physical technique allows him to believably play a varied assortment, (a total of 18 characters), of participants in Whelan’s trial. Among others, he jumps from a prissy young woman to a French Canadian lumberjack to an effete private detective in the blink of an eye.”

This is a fascinating part of Canadian history, and although I couldn’t get there, I hope that some of you, especially our Canadian listeners can make it. The Sleeping Dog Theatre/NAC co-production of BLOOD ON THE MOON runs at GCTC through February 5. For North Country Public Radio, I’m Connie Meng.

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